Cara Colter, “The Playboy’s Plain Jane”

24 Mar

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Harlequin Romance, 2008

WHY THIS NOVEL: Read the back blurb and the excerpt on the Harlequin homepage, was hooked + try for new author.

The back blurb:
“Good-looking and confident, sports hero Dylan McKinnon simply has that indefinable thing that makes him irresistible to the opposite sex.
Florist Katie Pritchard knows all about Dylan’s effect on women – he’s her best customer! And the wary divorcée is captivated by his charm, in spite of herself.
They seem an unlikely couple. They are. But Katie realizes there’s more to this playboy than meets the eye…”

The Playboy’s Plain Jane is a sweet romance and it’s a good novel. It’s funny, especially in the beginning, when Katie predicts the state of Dylan’s current affair by the number of orders for flowers she gets. Or when Katie uses the language of flowers to warn the women about Dylan. What didn’t work as funny were the unattractive clothes described early in the story. They seemed like from a different time or world. Where do you find clothes with hideous patterns like that? You really have to look for them or make them yourself, I think. I just found that too over-the-top, silly and not really believable instead of humorous and funny.

TPPJ is a good written story but the longer the story progressed, the more I realized it’s just not my cup of tea. There are two points which didn’t work for me.

1. no-sex-though-committed
I know this is subject to taste/opinion but it strikes me as troublesome because the hero, Dylan, didn’t have any problem with getting it on with other women who were not the heroine. Good for him to realize that sex should (or could – and here I go again) mean something and that it’s maybe a good idea to think before doing it. But after Dylan and Katie are committed to each other and then don’t have sex because she’s the heroine (at least, it seems this way) just rubs me the wrong way. It’s like measuring women with completely different measures and it’s the opposite of the romance novel shorthand: it’s-true-love-because-the-hero’s-constant-erection-says-so. Here it’s true love because the hero won’t have sex with the heroine before marriage because it shows respect. The problem is it (often) seems as if respect for the women in regard to sex only comes into play where the heroine is concerned when it should be true for all women regardless of their heroine status. Which makes this sign of true love often iffy, IMO. Though I have to say that Colter did a rather good job of making it work for me nevertheless.

2. The baby
Dylan’s sister has a baby. When she has an accident, Dylan has to take care of it because she’s in the hospital and her husband in San Francisco. The problem I had is not with the baby per se (I’m working on my no-children-in-stories stance), but the way the baby was used. It’s a plot element to get the hero and heroine back together. Still okay. But then the baby attaches itself to Katie in a way that left me scratching my head. It cries with no end when she’s not around and there’s nothing that can distract it. If she leaves when the baby’s sleeping, after waking up it’s right back to crying. Not okay. The solution is of course that Katie moves in with Dylan, bringing them into contact again. That’s because the baby’s father is in San Francisco with no way to come home because it’s so foggy there that all flights are cancelled for a couple of days. Not okay. This way, the baby is an unbelievable and annoying plot element to bring Katie and Dylan into contact again which conveniently gives the hero and the heroine time to uh and ah over the baby so much that even changing diapers seems like joy.

I thought the bit about the language of flowers a nice little touch and interesting. And I really believed the Dylan’s reason for acting the way he did at the beginning and changing later in the story. I can see Dylan and Katie staying together because they want to do their best for the sake of the other, making them both better persons in the process.

So, while I liked Colter’s writing and her way of character development, I’m not sure I will read her again because I have the impression that the Harlequin Romance line is too sweet (or “un-contemporary”) for my taste.

A novel written for another line? A pretty sure deal.

Would I recommend this novel? Probably yes.

Would I read this novel again? Maybe.

Grade: 3,5 / 5


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