My One and Only, by MacKenzie Taylor

>> Thursday, January 23, 2003

Yesterday morning I finished My One and Only, by MacKenzie Taylor.

Abby Lee knew it was a long shot but because of her boss Harrison Montgomery's past kindness to her, she feels compelled to try. Harrison's company is on the verge of bankruptcy and only desperate measures may save it. The one man who is an expert in solving such problems, Ethan Maddux, happens to be Harrison's illegitimate son and top rival.

Knowing that Abby is trying to save his father's company both angers and intrigues Ethan. But something about her awakens new emotions in Ethan and so he agrees to take a look at Montgomery's books.

As Ethan lives in San Francisco and Abby resides in Chicago, distance should be a problem. However Ethan is relentless in his pursuit. Abby is a package deal since she is raising her 13-year-old sister Rachel, following the unsolved murder of their parents. Ethan's sudden interest in Abby and possible interference in the Montgomery Company is arousing all kinds of emotions in a variety of individuals� including some who are not so benign.

I'm afraid the reason I moved this one up on my TBR pile was a comment on one of the Yahoo! Groups I belong to. The poster mentioned how this one's plot was a copy of JAK's Family Man: The heroine works for the hero's estranged family. They helped her when she was very young and needed a job. The business in is trouble, so she goes to him (a hotshot business consultant who specializes in rescuing failing businesses) to ask for help.

At first, it did seem the books were similar, plus, the first time we meet Ethan, he's thinking about how he might have scared his ex-fiancée away with his excessive passion. That reminded me of another JAK (Asolutely, Positively, I think it was, but I might be wrong), where the hero had had exactly the same problem. His former fiancée described life with his as (I'm paraphrasing) "hours of boredom, mixed with moments of extreme fear".

However, as the book progresses it becomes clear that it's only a superficial similarity, only the same premise. These are their own characters, not carbon copies of those in Family Man. They have their own issues, and their stories progress in a different direction.

That issue out of the way, I didn't like the book. I thought I would, and I liked the beginning, basically how the characters and the conflict were set up. Problem is, I didn't really feel the romance and though the suspense subplot was very intriguing, the resolution was a bust. The problem with the romance was the biggest, IMO. I never felt any of the sexual tension, and when they did get into bed, the author basically slammed the door in our faces, by doing this very general description. I hate it when they do that. Sorry, but if, for whatever reason, you don't want to write love scenes, write a sweet romance. Don't do that last-minute cop-out thing. It especially bothered me here because I was interested in seeing how Ethan would deal with it when he showed Abby his "dark side". Would he freak out? Would he be certain Abby was going to leave him?

The resolution of the suspense subplot was even worse. By that time, I'd already given up on the romance and was hoping this part would carry the day (at least into upper C territory). No such luck. The whole resolution was anticlimatic, plus a couple of threads were left hanging.

To summarize, a promising book that didn't deliver. A grade of C-.

ETA: Oh, and another thing... just a niggle, but... why would Ethan be the best candidate to represent the US president in a forum on international economics? Very doubtful. The guy's basically a business consultant, no reason to believe he'd know so much about the subject.

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