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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

#TBRChallenge Review 2022: Abby and the Bachelor Cop

The Particulars: Harlequin Romance #4241, Book 1 in series, 2011, Out of print, Available digitally.

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: Lennox is an autobuy. As simple and as uncomplicated as that.

The Review: I am not a reader who gravitates towards books with cute doggies on the cover but I generally enjoy Marion Lennox and something about the back cover copy of this book must have tickled me at the time I bought it.  The final verdict? The dog was really the best part of the story for me.

Abigail "Abby" Callahan is weeks away from her wedding to Banksia Bay golden boy, Philip. Philip is a defense attorney currently representing a guy who swindled half the town out of their life savings, but somehow Philip's sh*t doesn't stink.  Anyway, Abby is also a defense attorney and Philip's partner.  On paper it should be perfect. Philip is decent and steady, so what if his kisses don't light her world on fire. So what if he painted the living room in the house they're going to share after the wedding beige?  Philip is decent and steady and her parents love him.

Unlike Rafferty "Raff" Finn, former town bad boy now one of two small town cops in Banksia Bay. The "good townsfolk" thought he was trash before and then there was a car accident that left his younger sister, Sarah, with permanent disabilities.  She needs care, stability, and familiarity. Leaving Banksia Bay is not an option. Anyway, that car accident also seriously injured Raff (he has some memory loss from the night of the accident) and killed his best friend Ben.  Ben Callahan, Abby's older brother.  Raff was Abby's first love and while they had broken up over a tiff prior to the accident, that accident severed any hope they may find their way back to each other.  Also there the night of the accident? Philip. Yep, they were all friends.  Messy. The relationships here are messy.

Anyway, Abby and Raff are due in court what with Raff being the cop on record and Abby helping to defend the swindler. A car accident involving a vehicle containing animal shelter dogs has slowed them down and snarled traffic (as snarled as traffic gets in a small town - sorry I live SoCal, I laugh in the face of traffic).  Anyway, Raff dumps a dog named Kleppy into Abby's lap. Take the dog to the vet, his owner died and the dog is scheduled to be put down.  We all know what happens next - Abby can't do it. She rescues Kleppy, even though Philip doesn't like dogs, and before she finds out why he's named "Kleppy."  Yep, this dog is a known kleptomaniac, a thief, and generally a loveable menace.

Lennox is going for romantic comedy with this story and for the most part she succeeds when the focus is on Kleppy's antics. This dog is a charmer.  He'd probably drive me to the brink of insanity but in romance novel form he's a delight.  The romance though....

Here's the issue: I didn't like Raff. He rubbed me the wrong way from the jump and I had a hard time putting my finger on why.  It eventually hit me though, he railroads Abby.  Here's the thing, everyone is railroading Abby in this book.  Philip and his beige life. Her parents who want her to have a sensible career (lawyer) and a sensible husband (Philip) and Abby just drifts along accepting all of it because Ben's death has left her that shattered.  Raff's genius idea is to badger her over her engagement, snipe at her in the early chapters, kiss her senseless a couple of times, and continue to badger her over her engagement, showing up at her house with lights flashing when Kleppy steals something, her career, her defending a criminal yada yada yada.  

Eventually Abby gets there on her own. She realizes she can't marry Philip for various and sundry reasons but I felt like that was in spite of Raff's "help" in opening her eyes.  

Does Raff start to grow on me a bit by the end?  Yeah, kind of? I mean he's taking care of his sister whose personality turned child-like after the accident. He's living in a town that has tarred and feathered him with the bad-boy-no-good-family-brush for his sister. But his personality in the early chapters really grated.  I liked Abby. Yes she's drifting through a life she doesn't want and hasn't fully realized that yet, but I liked her. I kind of wanted her to tell Banksia Bay to go to the devil and run away to Sydney and live with Kleppy in some swanky condo where he can pilfer jewelry from the neighbors, but whatever.

So, yeah. I didn't love this but I also didn't hate it. It's a quick read and Lennox does nail the light, romantic comedy feel while delivering a foundation of Angst-O-Rama-Jama.  A nice enough heroine, a hero I never warmed to, and a pretty great dog.

Final Grade = C


azteclady said...

I'll take the dog and his human, please.

Whiskeyinthejar said...

Yay, someone picked a book with a dog on the cover! I'm a crazy dog lady so I was shocked at some of the comments about struggling to pick for this month. I always notice pets in stories, lol.
Can't hate a review that says to ditch the dude and keep the dog :)

Jen Twimom said...

Ugh. This sounds so frustrating. I would have been pulling my hair out. But I'm glad that Abby finally gets there. She should take the dog and run!

azteclady said...

@Whiskey: see, I have dozens of ebooks with dogs in the cover; unfortunately, it's rarely obvious whether they figure half as prominently in the story as they do in the cover!

Miss Bates said...

And here you are!! We practically wrote the same review: not content, but response to said titles. That's hilarious. In any case, I didn't like my heroine, you didn't like the hero, we both liked the dog best. Onwards to challenge October. Wonder if we can do this again?

azteclady said...

@Miss Bates: I legit had to toggle back to Wendy's when I saw what your book was this month. It would be awesome-sauce if the serendipity repeated for October--hopefully with more enjoyment by all parties, though.

Jill said...

Ah, yes, railroading the heroine. I feel like I've seen a couple romantic comedies with this dynamic. There's a love triangle and the "bad guy" is bossy in one way and the "good guy" is bossy in another way that the audience is supposed to approve of. Like the classic "you shouldn't wear all that makeup crap because you look prettier without it." And everyone is supposed to cheer and see him as some great feminist who has given her a confidence boost. Never mind that she's an adult and it's her face. She can do what she wants with it.
Glad to hear Kleppy was fun. I like Marion Lennox but I'll pass on this one.

Wendy said...

Jill: That's a really apt description of this book! As the reader we know her fiancé is all wrong and we're supposed to think that the hero is the one for her - except his constant badgering and railroading just made me want her take the dog and run. Abby + Kleppy 4EVER!

Miss Bates: We both generally like Lennox so not a surprise, but kind of funny we both picked books from the same series. This was readable for me but lacked the sparkle of say, Christmas with her Boss or The Billionaire's Christmas Baby (I wonder if my Lennox sweet spot is Christmas books? 🤔)