Thursday, October 9, 2014

Her Temporary Hero
Jennifer Apodaca is a master at giving readers the sexy with the sweet, which is an element I've always enjoyed in her writing.  She can spice up the proceedings with the best of them, but her stories never lose an underlying current of sweetness to them that can turn the reader into a big ol' pile of goo.  Her Temporary Hero is the second book in her Once a Marine category series for Entangled, and it featured more of that trademark Sexy Sweet.  Unfortunately the good parts were off-set by elements that annoyed me and the story never quite gelled into a cohesive whole.

Becky Holmes is a former trailer park beauty queen with a three-month old baby girl.  The Baby Daddy is a vile, despicable, piece of human garbage who has just gotten out of prison for a hit-and-run that killed a homeless man.  Oh, and did I mention that Becky is the one who turned him into the cops?  Oh and the Baby Daddy comes from a Super Rich, Super Powerful family?  Yeah, Becky is screwed.

After Baby Daddy shows up, threatens her, and lets her know his family is going to haul her into court over custody, Becky turns to the only person she can - her boss at the janitorial company where she works.  Her boss has a temporary answer - stay at her cousin's house!  He lives out on a secluded ranch and he's always traveling on business.  You know, except when he isn't.  Logan Knight comes home to find a strange woman and her baby sleeping in his bedroom.  This is a problem he doesn't need, except when it turns out said problem could be a solution.

Logan has a vile, despicable, piece of human garbage for a father.  A father who blackmails him by holding a contract over his head.  Marry by the time you're 30, take over the family ranch, or else you don't get the piece of land your faithless whore mother made me promise to give you.  Logan wants that land to open up a therapeutic retreat for veterans with PTSD, but his father sees that as a big waste of time.  Why would he want to help a bunch of pansies who aren't real men?  And never mind that Logan also suffers from PTSD.  That just makes him a sissy!

So Logan needs a wife and Becky needs to be rescued.  Gee, whatever shall they do?
For the first time, she saw the absolute hard-ass in him.  The man who could kill, and no doubt had.

"Do you hate your father?"

"It's complicated."

She lifted a brow.  "Speak slowly and use small words.  If I concentrate real hard, I might be able to understand."

"Funny.  And a smart mouth."

"You're being secretive and evasive."

"Military trained."
"Pageant trained.  We can do this all night.  But if you want me to consider this wild scheme of yours, I need to know a little about you."
It's moments like this one that make this story work for me as well as it did.  But when stuff didn't work for me?  It really didn't.  For the most part I think Apodaca handled the category length very well.  Her backlist is predominantly made up of single titles, and over the years I've read authors who were good in one format, not so good in the other.  Where I do think this story sometimes flounders is with the tropes.  There's just an awful lot of them crammed in here.  The marriage of convenience, two villains, a military hero with PTSD, the heroine with an infant and no other family whatsoever, the rescue fantasy.  Less is sometimes more.

Also by the end of it I was getting mighty annoyed with the demonization of Logan's mother.  For the first eight years of his life Logan lived with his nightclub singing mother, on the back of tour buses, in dressing rooms of seedy clubs etc.  Was this an ideal situation for Logan?  Well, no. And once his father remarries, and Wife #2 squirts out two girls, Daddy gets it in his head that he needs a son to inherit the Earth.  So he drags Indigo into court, throws a bunch of money around, drags her down, to the point where Logan is living with Daddy-Of-The-Year.  So yeah, was she the best Mom?  Maybe not.  But honestly, single woman with unstable job, little money, going up against a Vile, Despicable Piece of Human Garbage Ex who has money, power and unlimited resources.  Gee, how's that gonna work out for her?  But by the end Wife #2 is telling Becky that while Indigo would come visit Logan, she'd always leave while he was asleep, chasing after her career.  Because, you know, I'm sure she felt great having supervised visits with her kid while in the home of the Vile Despicable Piece of Human Garbage that is her Ex.  Because gee, I'm sure he just made that so great for her.  And wow - what a piece of trash she was!  Thinking about a job!  Thinking about a career!  Thinking about having a life outside of popping babies out of her belly!  Ladies, your sole mission in life is to birth you some babies.  Do not let anything silly like wanting something for yourself, oh like a career, ambition, some self-respect, keep your eyes from the ultimate prize!

Ahem.  Where was I?  Oh yes.

In comparison we have sweet, wonderful Becky.  Becky who had her baby girl even though her ex ordered her to "get rid of it" before she called the cops on him.  Becky who put her nursing school aspirations on hold to 1) have her baby, 2) take care of her baby, and 3) nurse her mother before she died of cancer.  Yes, Becky probably should have done these things.  A lot of women do these things, making choices like this every day.  Becky is lauded for protecting her baby at all costs.  Well guess what cupcake!  YOU AREN'T DOING IT ALONE!  You've got Logan there to play hero.  Indigo?  Logan's Mom?  Had no one.  So yeah, her Vile, Despicable, Piece of Human Garbage Ex won.  Does this make her evil?  No, it does not.  And yet, it's implied.

Which, as you can tell, kind of annoyed the crap out of me.  Especially when, in the obligatory happy sunshine closing chapter, Logan's Daddy is allowed to make peace.  Even though during the course of the story he threatens Becky, her baby and blackmails her by saying if she doesn't hit the road he will do everything in his power to ensure her Vile Despicable Piece of Human Garbage Ex wins the custody case!!!!!!

But, you know, Daddy can apologize and Becky, all sweetness and light, doesn't drive an ice pick through his cold, shriveled up, barely beating heart.

Because, you know, Indigo was a terrible mother.  Unlike Becky.  Who seems fine to let Logan's Daddy back into the fold and not murder him with her bare hands.

Seriously, deliver me.  The more I think about it the angrier I get. Mostly because it's all so patently unnecessary. 

Which leaves me with no idea how to grade this story.  It's OK for the vast majority and there were elements I really liked.  But how Logan's mother was dealt with - oh man, that just sticks in my craw.  Maybe it won't stick in your craw.  Maybe you're thinking, "Seriously Wendy?  Once again you're making mountains out of mole hills.  Get a grip."  So let's split the difference.

Final Grade = C-


azteclady said...

Not for me.

This: "And wow - what a piece of trash she was! Thinking about a job! Thinking about a career! Thinking about having a life outside of popping babies out of her belly! Ladies, your sole mission in life is to birth you some babies. Do not let anything silly like wanting something for yourself, oh like a career, ambition, some self-respect, keep your eyes from the ultimate prize!" would make me stab the book.

Wendy said...

AL: And most of this stuff doesn't really turn up until the end - which just....ugh! We already have two OTT vile villains in this story. Do we really need to drag the mother down to that level? And the fact that she's continued to be thought poorly of when Logan's Daddy just shows up at the end, ready to sing Kumbaya after some of the HORRIBLE stuff he says and does in this book? I just can't even. I mean, seriously - he's pure evil. A horrible, awful person. Maybe Logan's mother wasn't the greatest, but compared to that guy she was more saintly than Mother Theresa. And yet he gets to show up in the final chapter for his "hat in hand" scene.

The more I think about it, the more annoyed I get. Because up until then this was a serviceable category read for me. I wasn't in love with it, but I also didn't hate it. And some of the dialogue, how Logan and Becky were around each other, was really done well.

Which made grading this read the very devil.

Lori said...

FWIW, I don't think you're making a mountain out of a mole hill. That crap would drive me crazy too. The fact that Becky can't see the parallels between herself and Logan's mom and then judges her harshly while letting Daddy Un-Dearest off the hook for minimum effort is pretty terrible.

Wendy said...

Lori: Yeah, but see - Logan's Daddy comes around because Becky did EVERYTHING to protect her baby, while Logan's Mom just walked away. ::headdesk:: Yeah, well Becky had a strong, sexy ex-Marine with some money to help her out. Exactly who did Logan's Mom have? Oh, yeah.....NO ONE! Oh FFS - I'm getting irritated again.

And that's what really pushed me over the edge - the ending. Becky is fierce Mama Bear and when Daddy Un-Dearest shows up, Logan is ready to either 1) throw him out or 2) tear him limb from limb or 3) possibly both. And yet she's all like, "No let him stay." Um, remember how he threatened you cupcake and said he would do everything in his power to make sure you lost custody of your baby and in turn make sure said baby would go to your Evil Ex's family?

Seriously, I would have clawed the man's eyes out and then driven a stake through his chest.

azteclady said...

And then burn him and flush the ashes down a road stop men's toilet.