Book Review

Gail’s Gone Wild by Susan Donovan


Title: Gail's Gone Wild
Author: Susan Donovan
Publication Info: Harlequin Ltd. February 2010
ISBN: 0373775563
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book CoverOver lunch I read Susan Donovan’s novella in this anthology – it’s a novella, a complete story, so fear not. I think the Dahl story is the only tease in the book. There were moments when I empathized totally with the characters, and there were moments when the hero or heroine would do something so jarring I’d blink at the page to make sure I’d seen that correctly, but in all, it soothed the ire of being teased by an incomplete story. Like I said earlier, I’m glad I read them in reverse order.

Professor Gail Chapman is a divorced mom of a teenage daughter, getting over being cheated on then finding out her ex-husband has embezzled a few million from his company. The story opens with her daughter, Holly, begging to go away alone with her best friend, Hannah, and Gail repeatedly saying there is no way. Then Gail has the idea of going to Key West, and bringing Holly and Hannah with her for spring break.

Things fall into place perfectly: a last minute cancellation gets them a great bungalow rental. Holly and Hannah are more interested in doing their own thing, and Gail is left to explore and experience her vacation the way she wants. When she meets the hunka-hot-mc-stud next door neighbor, Jesse, her vacation gets kinda awesome in a hurry.

Jesse has a secret that he doesn’t let on to Gail (which, with her ex husband, dude, come on, you know that’s got to be a bad idea): he’s a best selling mystery author, with a scandal in his past (dude, REALLY, come ON) and a definite feeling of OH HELL NO when it comes to getting involved with someone who is only in the Keys for a vacation.

Jesse and Gail are, of course, poleaxed (I really like that word – sounds like a really violent and huge penny dropping on your head) by one another, since it is a novella, and despite a deadline (Oh noes!), Jesse puts aside his work to show Gail the best vacation of her life.

There are some scenes that are very fun and cute, like when Jesse and Gail are trying to one-up each other on Hemingway trivia during a tour, and when he surprises her with opportunities to swim with dolphins or have a dance lesson on the beach.

There were moments where I thought Hannah was going to morph in to Evil Slut Best Friend Bad Influence Girl, but she didn’t. The scenes of role reversal where Holly is appalled and concerned for her mom, who appears to be having FUN with a GUY, like OMG, are really cute and show that Holly does care about her mom.

But what jarred me most was that every now and again, Gail or Jesse would take a GIANT LEAP FORWARD in plot development by saying or doing something that was crazy. Gail spends a lot of time feeling like the room is spinning because she’s overwhelmed by her feelings, or overwhelmed by her own hornypants, and she’s literally in a daze so often in some chapters I’m amazed she didn’t walk into a wall. Jesse, for some odd reason, finds this hot. Jesse also has that strange romance hero habit of busting out with some dirty talk in a hot scene when otherwise, his dialogue doesn’t really seem to indicate that verbally he’d bust out with the raunchy.

In order to move them closer together, both Gail and Jesse take actions or say things that seem unrealistic, and I wish that my immersion in the story wasn’t interrupted by strange dialogue or moments where I thought Gail would fall down the stairs from the force of her emotional reverie. In the end, I rooted for them, but I didn’t believe they were fully real, if that makes sense, and I didn’t get the a complete picture of either one.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Mayweed says:

    I hate it when the h/h suddenly have random dialogue from nowhere.  I recently finished a book (I can’t even remember the title), it was actually a fairly good book, right until the last page, where the hero talks about his hickey looking like a “smiley face”.  This book was set in the victorian era.  Totally jarred me right out the book.
    While I have no problem with author’s tacking on a last, brief chapter to recount the 3 children in 5 years, still doing it like bunnies, everything is just wonderful ending – that one line ruined it.

  2. 2
    Suzanne says:

    Hemingways house smells of cat pee….

  3. 3
    Jeannie says:

    Oh, Suzanne, that made my day! I remember thinking that very same thing when we visited Key West a few years ago and considered a tour of his house. We passed for lack of time. Now I’m kinda glad we did.

    As far as the review, thanks Sarah for plodding along even in the midst of Hella Flu!

  4. 4
    TheKitten says:

    Thanks for the review!! seems ok for a novella, and novellas are notoriously fast paced. I remember one where the H/H married two days after meeting each other, that was too fast even for a novella!

    By the way… anyone notice the strange gleam in the cover-boy’s eyes? I’m drawn to them. it’s kind of spooky

  5. 5
    Lora says:

    While I would be jarred by discordantly raunchy or suddenly fast-paced dialogue I think it sounds charming that the teen daughter worries about her mom. So many books portray teens as both entirely callous and usually involved in something illicit (unsafe sex/anorexia/drug use/drunk driving/abusive relationship).

  6. 6
    Amy says:

    I have to admit I don’t like novellas because they never seem to have a time/space to describe the characters, get the plot going, etc.  On the other hand, extra long novels seem to suffer from the Too Many Words problem.  Given the cost of printing , it seems like an editor would be cheap in comparison.  ;p Bad writing generally suffers from the Too Many Words issue rather than the novella problem.  Sadly, I’d have to also include this comment in the first category. ;)

  7. 7
    Barbara W. says:

    @TheKitten – gleam in his eyes?  Who’s looking at a gleam?  I’m looking for a treasure trail and wondering if he’s waxed all over (waggles eyebrows).

    Novellas that do the Super Seekrit storyline always are too rushed.  Keep it simple.  Put her on vacation with a stud next door, make him a writer who talks dirty and have them have crazy monkey sex that makes her ditzy and wonder if they can have a relationship.  She’s already got the extra teenage daughter storyline in there, why make it even more complicated?

    I’m a simple girl.  Give me dirty sex talk, I’m in.  ;)

  8. 8

    Hello Smart Beet-chez,
    As always, I am thrilled and humbled to be reviewed on this site. Just wanted to say “thank you!”  Well, I’m off—got a lot more dirty dialogue to write before I can call it a day! :)
    – Susan Donovan

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