First of all, Can’t Fight the Feeling is not to be confused with the 80’s wuss-rock ballad Can’t Fight This Feeling by REO Speedwagon, or the compulsively catchy Can’t Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake. (Great. Now I have a weird mash-up of those 2 songs stuck in my head. Yikes.) The book isn’t related to either song, even though I immediately thought of them when I read the title.
The book starts out with the hero, Russ, getting stitched up in the ER by nurse practitioner Joslynn, who happens to be a friend-of-a-friend that has been trying unsuccessfully to set Russ and Joslynn up on a date for a while. It isn’t much of a meet-cute, because Russ is kind of a jerk and skips out before filling out his discharge paperwork. Josie decides she’s going to hand-deliver his paperwork a few days later, along with some stern words to “teach him a lesson” in manners. If that had happened, if she would have marched up to him and put him in his place for his asshattery, I would’ve loved it. Instead, she wimps out and goes out on a date with him. It actually made me stop reading and say, “huh?” (Stopping a story to say “huh” is never a good thing, in my experience.)
Shortly thereafter, Russ steals a kiss from Joslynn. Now, I’m not normally opposed to the hero stealing a little kiss. But this particular kiss involves Russ “forcing his tongue” past her lips before she’s decided if she’s going to even open her mouth. Guys, it’s not cool to be the aggressive dude who shoves his tongue past a woman’s teeth. If she hasn’t opened her mouth, take a hint. Wait for her lips to part willingly, ok? That’s just a little friendly advice from Romance Rehab to all you men out there. You’re welcome.
I considered marking the book a DNF after the kiss, because honestly, at this point in the story, I don’t particularly care for either character, but I persevered. (Why? I dunno. I guess I wanted to be able to say I gave the book a fair shake. Or maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment. But I digress…)
So then, Joslynn and Russ go out on another date and things get sexy. But just as the clothes are starting to come off, Russ puts the brakes on and tells Joslynn that he wants a fairy tale ending with her, and banging her on their second date would be moving too fast. While I agree that second date banging is kinda quick, this doesn’t sound like the guy described in the blurb who isn’t looking for a relationship. Joslynn quite clearly tells Russ that she doesn’t want a HEA, she just wants some sex. Seems reasonable to me. But he fires back at her that she’s obviously scared to be in a relationship. OR, maybe, aggressive tongue thrusting dude, she just doesn’t WANT A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU. Did you ever consider that?
Because, no, Russ never seemed able to consider the possibility that Joslynn wouldn’t be ready to marry him at the end of date two, I threw in the towel and quit reading. But if you don’t mind an aggressive tongue thrusting hero who thinks a heroine looking for sex is just too scared to commit on the second date, you’re a better reader than I am, and you might want to give this one a chance. Apparently there’s some life-threatening illness drama later in the story, so that sounds fun. (Not for me, but maybe for you. I don’t judge.)
Full disclosure: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Does this book contribute to or help crush the romance stigma?
It’s pretty stigma-y. Not the worst I’ve ever seen, but it ain’t helping matters, either.
Other reading suggestions
For an emotional read about a heroine overcoming serious illness to fall in love and find her HEA, try JL Berg’s Within These Walls.