It’s not a makeover story
Gina, the heroine, isn’t what you’d call “romance novel heroine” pretty. She doesn’t have that pert little nose, heart-shaped face, and Angelina lips we all read about in romance novels. She’s just average looking, and still, the hot guy falls ass-over-elbow for her because of her inner beauty. He also finds her physically attractive just the way she is. (And it works better if you read that “just the way she is” part in Mark Darcy’s voice) And a big part of what he loves her for (other than the fact that she’s a smart, funny, hard-working woman) is her confidence. Gina LIKES who she is. She doesn’t want to have surgery or get a makeover to get her man. She’s happy with her life, even if she never finds a man to share it with. Sure, she has occasional bouts of insecurity. (I mean, who among us doesn’t?) But she carries on and doesn’t let those insecurities and past hurts overtake her. She’s not a wallower or a whiner. She’s strong and confident and comfortable in her own skin. And to me, that puts Gina right up there with the greatest romance novel heroines of all time.
Ford is a great romance hero. He’s smart, good at his job, sensitive without being a wuss and alpha without being an alphahole. He’s also super sexy, which never hurts. He never once feels the need to “fix” Gina. He also fails to see the ugliness the superficial a-holes in his precinct see when they look at Gina. All Ford sees the amazing, beautiful, hilarious and smart woman Gina truly is. Sure, he keeps some secrets from Gina that I wish he wouldn’t have, but he did it for a good reason (in his mind, at least), so I cut him some slack on that. I’d happily add Ford to the “all-time-great book boyfriends” list I’m currently working on. He’s a keeper.
(Fair warning, though: outside of Ford’s family and Gina’s brothers, about 90% of the other men in town are douchenozzles of the highest order. You’ll want to nut-punch them while reading.)
The secondary characters
The secondary characters here are AWESOME. They’re well-developed without being obvious sequel bait, and serve an actual purpose in the story. (You’d be surprised how many secondary characters I see in romance who serve no true purpose in the story other than to pop up at opportune times to offer sage love advice to the hero and heroine. I hate that.)
So, all that said, I stand by my first statement: I loved everything about this book. Also, I plan to 1-click the crap out of Frankie and Lucy’s story when it’s done. I highly recommend you read Butterface, then do the same. That is all.
Full disclosure: I received an ARC from NetGalley at no charge.
Does this book contribute to or help crush the romance stigma?
It’s clean and sober. No rehab needed.
Other reading suggestions
Read everything Avery Flynn writes. Call me when you run out of books and I’ll recommend some others.