I’ve never considered myself much of a romance novel reader. In my head, they have a tendency to be formulaic, tedious, and unbelievable. Couple meets, falls for each other, sex happens way too fast, someone does something stupid, they hate each other, and by the end all is back to happy sex again. While other members of my family have enjoyed them in the past, I wasn’t sold for a while.
Recently however, I got a chance to beta read a romance for a friend of mine–and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. So when a chance came to beta read JUST SAY YES, I decided to take a jump on it. Bad boys, journalists…this was something I could sink my teeth into.
And was I right.
Quinn Sawyer is a fairly sweet/innocent/naïve magazine journalist who doesn’t understand why she always seems to attract the calm, boring guys. Face to face with sexy reformed (depending on who you ask) criminal Tim Jacobs, and she feels just as safe and boring as all the guys she tends to date. So what better way to work her way out of her shell than make a list of rebellions to accomplish, and ask Tim to help her finish the list? Flawless plan. Nothing could possibly go wrong, right?
There’s a piece of me that can relate to Quinn: feeling safe and boring, but liking guys a shade on the dangerous side. (Granted, Tim’s about as “dangerous” as I’d like my men, but that’s aside.) And Tim’s backstory is just dark enough and just deep enough to make him a fascinating and well-rounded character. Honestly, this is a perfect balance of character personality, logic for the pace of the action, and humor to make the entire piece cohesive.
I won’t lie: there is an element of the romance-novel-formula in this. It is a romance novel, and it follows what you’d expect of one. However there are still a few surprises: moments where I expected one thing and got another, times when what I was sure would happen didn’t happen at all, moments of character reveal that knocked me off balance. It didn’t drag, it didn’t seem repetitive of redundant, everything had a reason and a logic. All winning points for me in a book.
What “bothers” me about romance novels is that more often than not, by the time the book ends, the story for those two characters is finished–and thus I don’t get anymore. I’d love to read more about Quinn and Tim, figuring out themselves and their place in the world, maneuvering through their respective baggage, working with each other. They’re really fun characters and in a way, I kind of miss them. But that’s the sign of a good book, and it’s likely better to leave the reader wanting more, than dragging them on and on and making them want to light the second half of the book on fire.
The pair behind this pseudonym know their stuff, and it shows. I’d absolutely pick up another of their books, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else they can cook up.
Rating: ***** (Highest Recommendation)
(honestly, I’d give it a 4.5, but Goodreads etc. doesn’t allow for it so…)