Book Review

Naked Attraction by Jule McBride: A Guest Review from Test Driver Mary

Title: Naked Attraction
Author: Jule McBride
Publication Info: Harlequin April 2009
ISBN: 0373794649
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book CoverAs Harlequin very generously offered a book voucher as part of the Sony e-Reader test drive, I decided to use it to break out of my preferred romance genre (long historicals) and try some short contemporaries.  I hadn’t read a contemporary in years, so I figured the best way to re-introduce myself to the genre was to try some random compendiums and the Blaze series seemed to be about the furthest away from my usual preferences as possible.  For the most part, they were enjoyable, but fairly forgettable (kind of like the McDonalds of romantic fiction really).  However, there was one book in the bunch that made quite an impact on me – unfortunately it was on the epic fail level (I really wanted to find one that I could give a fantastic review to – but my selection choice was pretty poor really.  I’ve since downloaded some single books – non-Blaze – and they are faring much better).

Naked Attraction features Ellie Lee, a brilliant mathematician/data analyst who supposedly has the chops to take over from her father as CEO of the successful family firm.  At the start of the novel she has it all: a brilliant corporate career and the Smoking-Hot Man of Her Dreams.  Robby Robriquet is the aforementioned SHMOHD – a title he apparently earned solely on the basis of her adolescent crush, a hot bod and workaholic tendencies.  Because Ellie is a workaholic too, and Robby also works at the family firm, this is a big plus in Ellie’s eyes. 

The first problem: Ellie needs to get Robby to commit.  We know this because we’re told so (mid-morning sex scene): “She loved him. That’s all she could think as she looked into his eyes, her heart racing. But she had to get him to commit. She’d wanted him her whole life, and this past six months had been pure torture. Always, he’d been the only man for her. Sure, she’d fooled around at college, but no one could hold a candle to Robby. She wanted more…”  Now, aside from the illogical inconsistency of him being the only man for her (well, him and all the college boys), how does Ellie intend to get him to commit? By pausing in the middle of the already interrupted hot sexxoring to ask “When are we going to tell my Dad”?  Now I don’t know about you… but I’m generally not thinking about when to tell my DAD about a relationship when I’m enjoying supposedly mind-blowing sex.  Either the sex wasn’t all that mind-blowing, or Ellie has Daddy issues.  Oh… wait… she calls her father “Daddy Eddie”. I think I have my answer.

Problem two: In addition to having always wanted Robby, Ellie has always wanted to be President of the family company – since she was five years old.  Her father had practically promised her the job. Ellie has one qualm about becoming President… Robby would be reporting to her.  Ellie is a “modern woman” (who believes only men should propose) and despite Robby being very “macho” and possibly better suited to the role, he’s not a Lee – and therefore not President material.  We find all this out (still in the middle of the same round of mind-blowing sex) again because we’re told so.  How do we know that Ellie is a modern woman? Because we’re told she is. How do we know Robby is macho? Because we’re told he is. This author is the master of telling not showing – and the master of contradicting everything we’re told when she does decide to “show” anything.

Big conflict: Daddy Eddie and hot-bod Robby betray poor Ellie.  Instead of proposing (still in the middle… well… now the abrupt end of the morning rumpy pumpy) Robby asks Ellie how she’d feel if he ran the company – and tells Ellie that Daddy Eddie had offered him the job the previous week.

Immediately revolted by Robby, Ellie hops out of bed, throws out “how could you’s”, storms off to call Daddy (because she’s now convinced the SHMOHD is a dirty rotten liar), only to hear her father say that “It’s true Ellie”.  Just that quickly, her loving supportive father becomes a Neanderthal, the macho SHMOHD goes from “sweet and non-threatening” to “cold and calculating, vicious and predatory” and Ellie wonders “what had she ever seen in him”? By the way – we’re not even out of Chapter One yet.  Before it ends Ellie has decided to ditch the filthy betrayers, storm off to New York City, start a rival polling company (and eventually stage a hostile take-over of the privately held family firm), and “have sex with a lot of men. Every guy I can”.  Sounds like President material to me.

It probably doesn’t help that I’m in business – but this book was already ticking me off – I’m really not a fan of adolescent behavior in adults or one-dimensional characters. I’m even less of a fan of using a business career as a throw-away background (especially when it’s ludicrously improbable).  This could be why I read historicals – very little personal experience to interfere with my enjoyment of a story. I can count on two fingers the number of books I’ve not finished in my life… and by the end of the first chapter I would have thrown the book against the wall, except it was an e-Reader, it’s only on loan, and I wanted to see if it could possibly get any worse… so I resisted and pushed on.

Chapter Two did me in though.  It starts eleven months after Chapter One ends, by which time Ellie’s new business is a raging success (gee… aren’t all start-ups a raging success in under a year… how hard can it be right)? Ellie has taken business away from her father’s firm, and is now speculating to a reporter about acquiring her Dad’s company. She is about to launch a publicity gambit that will put her firm over the top and resolve her lingering love/hate pining over Robby (who is now the Only Man She Ever Loved).

The gambit? Brilliant mathematician/data analyst Ellie has decided that she can find the perfect man for her solely by crunching the numbers.  Ellie is so sure that this will be a raging success that she will offer it as a service to customers – she will find the perfect man, date him, marry him etc all under the gaze of a reporter, so that her success will guarantee good publicity for her company.  Of course, since Robby is really the SHMOHD this is bound to fail.  The data-analyzed guy (natch) turns out to be a wimp. He’s not handsome, he’s a dweeb, he has confidence issues, he’s not even interesting enough to be bad… he’s just bland. While dismayed at the reality of her paper-MOHD, Ellie is determined to bring him up to scratch.  Which, of course, is when Robby appears in New York – all the better to be the foil for the never-ending “I hate him, but he is soooooo hot, how will I ever get over him, I will make paper-MOHD measure up and rub Robby and Daddy’s nose in it” angst fest that is Chapter Two. I can suspend disbelief for a short time… but I just couldn’t take it any more – I quit.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Anony Miss says:

    Please, please, just turn to the last page and let us know how the idiocy ends!

    Oh, wait. It’s an eBook. It’s HARD to turn to the last page, no?

  2. 2
    Tice Belmont says:

    Adults behaving like adolescents is a pet peeve of mine, too. As soon as I read about the heroine trashing her cheating man’s truck or something equally teenager-y, I’m done. But I’m sorry you didn’t finish this book—I was enjoying your review of its craptasticness!

  3. 3
    ferridder says:

    How to turn to the last page: Hold down the “Next page” button while thinking five times “I have to know how it ends!”.

    (eBooks are horrible for browsing, though.)

  4. 4
    Midknyt says:

    Oh, wait. It’s an eBook. It’s HARD to turn to the last page, no?

    No, actually.  When you open a book (on a Sony, at least), it gives you the options of going to the last page you were on, the first page, the last page, and the table of contents.  You can also just enter a page number and hit enter while reading, and it’ll have on the bottom what page you are on out of how many pages.  (i.e. it says 18 of 344, enter in 344 with the side buttons and it will go to that last page.)

    I find them quite easy to browse with.

    As for the book, sounds horrible.  That’s why I tend to read historicals myself as well – it’s a lot easier to get lost in the story.

  5. 5
    MamaNice says:

    You expressed it perfectly…I tend to stick to historicals as well…and yes, its probably because it’s easier for me to get lost in the story and there’s less of a chance my personal experience will interfere with my enjoyment of it. Even though I am aware of all the anachronistic b.s. of many of them, it’s not as in my face (so to speak) and I can happily ignore it.

    Though there was that case recently with a Lisa Kleypas…most of the action takes place in a theatre and a character refers to going to the back of the stage as going “downstage” and I was like…um…no. And for some reason, it just pissed me off.

    Between the HQ gift cert. and all the free books they gave away recently, I have made an effort to read more Cat.Cont. – but it’s been rough going – they really ain’t my thing.

  6. 6
    Caroline says:

    I like to read historicals, but I am also into the whole “cowboy” thing. Being a horse person of the “English” variety, the whole Western rope ‘em ride ‘em thing is intriguing. But when they get a horsey concept wrong, like anatomy or equipment or care procedure, I get a bit itchy to skip through to the fun bits.

    I think it boils down to research for me. Get it right, or I ain’t readin’.

  7. 7
    Lynn M says:

    Yeah, I don’t even need to know how it ends. The start-up business being a smashing runaway success after only 11 months is too much for me to even move to the next page. I can suspend my disbelief when it comes to vampires and historicals (i.e., everyone is clean with perfect teeth, just go with it), but when a story is set in modern times using supposedly realistic businesses, it has to ring true.

  8. 8
    Elizabeth Wadsworth says:

    Now, if the story panned out with Ellie gradually discovering that Mr. Bland ‘N’ Boring really was a great guy who just needed to be brought out of his shell a little, I think I could go for this.  Smokin’ hot gets a little old, after a while.

  9. 9
    Karla says:

    @ MamaNice: which Kleypas was that? I’m always on the lookout for historicals that take place on the stage. I can overlook errors like “downstage” :-)

  10. 10
    Mary G says:

    @Elizabeth

    I’m thinking it’s more like Mr Bland ‘N Boring went on to stalk Ellie and Robby had to rescue her… just had that vibe going (any time a man has “Mommy” issues, doesn’t that automatically translate as STALKER)?  But I agree with you about smoking hot getting a little old from time to time.

    *sigh* I suppose I really should flip to the end just to find out if I’m right or not.

  11. 11
    tracyleann says:

    @ Karla-
    Kleypas has at least two books set in the theater world—Somewhere I’ll Find You (1996) and Because You’re Mine (1997). I’m betting the second book is the troubling one, since more of the action takes place at the actual theater than in the first one. It was also my favorite of the duo; the errors didn’t bother me either.

  12. 12
    Karla says:

    @tracyleann: thanks! :-D

  13. 13
    MamaNice says:

    To Karla, like tracyleann said, it was Because You’re Mine, and I still enjoyed the book (even with her usual use of someone gets deathly ill and true love saves the day)…maybe it’s because I teach this stuff and that is such a basic simple thing that it irritated me (maybe it wasn’t her fault, maybe she had it right and an editor “fixed” it for her).

  14. 14
    Moth says:

    Ooh. I hate it when people get stuff wrong too. Totally takes me out of the book and drives me crazy. To expand on the theatre example it always bothers me when a character with no theatre background, who’s never performed on stage before, who’s never done any acting ever- suddenly gets the lead part and knocks it out of the park. Um, no. This stuff takes work and preparation and experience.

    And the upstage/downstage mess-up is annoying. That sort of thing is not difficult to check.

  15. 15
    readerpeg says:

    Arrgh! I bought this book but it’s still on my TBR pile.  I bought it primarily because the heroine was described as a statistician and I always feel the need to read books about heroines in my profession (though I realize it would be difficult to find another statistician-heroine that I will love as much as Min in Bet Me!)  After reading this review, the probability that I will ever read this book is…very low.  Sigh. 

    Long time lurker, first-time post.

  16. 16
    Jamie says:

    Oh now. Someone needs to finish and review this. I have to know how it ends! I’d do it if I had time to read for pleasure (you know other than sneaking on this site when I’m supposed to be working on a paper.)

    Maybe the library has a copy…

  17. 17
    An Goris says:

    It’s a pity you didn’t like the book, but you did a fab job on writing the review! Loved reading this!

  18. 18
    xssa annella says:

    I’m really not a fan of adolescent behavior in adults

    yes thank you! one of the ebook publishers says to know the differnce between a b*tch and a strong women, and this exact thing has bothered me for years. many authors use thier characters to snap out funny one liners that are not appropiate behavior for the situation. it seems more prevalant in paranormal where you have strong heriones. but still, a whiner is a whiner in any genre.

  19. 19
    D.L. says:

    omgwtfbbq i really want to read this now.  If there’s one thing that gets under my skin it’s over the top teenage angst- a) I’ve already lived through it and b) why would I want to read about an adult throwing an agnst-fit!? But I really love the snarky bitchy reviews that follow…

  20. 20
    MelB says:

    I hate when authors get stuff wrong, too. Pulls me right out of the story. I can overlook little things, but big errors like wrong dates, using things that hadn’t been invented yet, etc., I have to stop reading.

  21. 21
    DianeN says:

    Kudos to Test Driver Mary for using the phrase “rumpy pumpy” in her review. If anything evokes a heroine who’s still stuck in her teenage years, that’d be it!

    Ooh, my spamword is “expected69.” There are so many ways I could go with this. Does Ellie expect it? Does she get it, either from SHMOHD or the nerdy guy? Or is it Test Driver Mary who’s all expectant-like? Or, could it be me?? (Nah, I’m at work. No sexxoring here. Thank the gods.)

  22. 22
    ghn says:

    “The McDonald’s of Romance”!  :-D
    I loved that!!!

    Spamword: evidence36 – is there evidence of a _pøot< - at all? I won’t even _mention_ believability!!

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