RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: No Ordinary Joe by Michelle Celmer


Title: No Ordinary Joe
Author: Michelle Celmer
Publication Info: Harlequin 2012
ISBN: 9780373656783
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book No Ordinary Joe - a woman, man, and cute girl sitting on the porch reading a book This RITA® Reader Challenge 2013 review was written by Erica. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Long Contemporary Series Romance category.

The summary:     

Nothing could stop small-town gal Reily Eckardt from heading to Nashville and living the dream…until her car and cash savings were stolen en route. Now she was high and dry in Paradise, Colorado, population 1,632, relying on the kindness of strangers-in particular, bar and grill owner Joe Miller.

But why did the single dad have to be so gruff-and cute-while he was being kind? Her mission: save up and split before getting sidetracked by this sexy enigma. 

Sure, Joe could offer Reily a job at his bar. Renting her his garage apartment-no problem. But giving her a place in his heart-no way!

Poor Joe-it wasn't long before the country crooner had him singing a different tune.

And here is Erica's review:

No Ordinary Joe sounded like just the sort of book that I dig: small town contemporary, obligatory cheesy town name, normal people, no massive craziness like serial killers and Navy SEALS dropping from the sky.

And I did enjoy it. But that doesn't mean that there wasn't some pretty big problems with the story.

You know how some books suffer from info dump and/or exposition fairy? No Ordinary Joe suffered from Coincidence Hammer. Seriously. I could accept the sheriff giving Reily (our heroine) a ride into Paradise, aforementioned small town with obligatory cheesy name. I could accept the instant job at Joe's bar. I could accept the apartment over Joe's garage.

But then there was the chick who gets a new wardrobe every season donating all of her clothes to Reily, all in Reily's size, giving her everything she needs (including 2 bikinis, but excluding underwear). And there was the care package of shampoo and stuff.

And the fact that she was walking down the street and saw some random dude playing her mother's guitar, which he had bought in Denver, and brought back to Paradise. At that point, I literally had to put the book down because I was rolling my eyes so damn hard I thought I was going to give myself an aneurysm. And that sort of thing just KEPT HAPPENING. For a girl who's supposedly always getting the short end of the stick, Reily gets a damn lot of breaks in Paradise.

And let's talk about Reily. She's an orphan (there should be a drinking game about orphans in romance novels, by the way). She grew up on her aunt's couch, with her stuff in the corner. She should have some issues. And when we're in her POV, she's pretty funny and awesome:

“The look Joe had given her had been so jam-packed with raw need and sexual desire, it's a wonder her panties hadn't burst into flames.”

I totally giggled at that. But she seems to lack real depth. Like, she totally has legit reasons/occasions to be a grumpy and bitchy, but no, she is always Mary Friggin' Sunshine. She's never tired and frustrated and annoyed. She's always happy, bouncy, and ugh. Guys, I have worked at a busy bar, and at the end of the night, I hurt and I was extremely tired and pissy. Sometimes her constant good temper was really damn annoying.

There was also the unfortunate plot moppet syndrome happening with Joe's kid. Lily Ann is a sweet kid. She's almost too sweet. I've seen worse, but she was still too perfect. My friends have a 5-year-old. That kid walks into my house and says it smells like old people. THAT’s a real kid, not this totally cheerful, obedient wunderkind o’ sweetness.

Joe was interesting. He was moody and hard-working, which is always good to see. (The hard-working, thing. Not the moodiness. Although his grumpiness in the beginning was a nice change from Reily’s Mary Sunshine.) I personally don't think he needed BOTH his mom and his wife leaving him to establish a tragic backstory to justify his moodiness. I think just one would have worked.

Although there was this weird theme, apparently more Coincidence Hammer at work, that both Joe and Reily have followed in their parents' footsteps. Joe, to his detriment in his disastrous first marriage, and Reily… (Wait, is this a spoiler? I retract statement.)

Anyway, Joe would totally freak out about something, then would forgive the person, because he knew they meant well. Ugh. Your aunt letting the new hot chick borrow your ex-wife's bike which you have kept for two years because you were convinced she was coming back, without your knowledge because she's trying force you to move on with said new hot chick…? That's something you maybe bitch at her about, instead of exploding at the new hot chick and then being all, “Oh, it's Aunt Sue's fault, okay.” Um, no. And after all the drama and angst that I was put through with him and his mom, I felt cheated by the fact I didn't actually see their conversation in the diner, that it was just explained later. That's weak sauce, folks.

And the beginning is a bunch of Insta-Lust, and Joe keeps getting surprised by different facets of her personality and I'm like, you guys have barely talked, so how do you think you can speak with any authority about her personality?!

It sounds like I didn't like it, doesn't it? I actually did enjoy it. When Joe and Reilly did start talking, I loved it because they were actually friends as well as hot for each other. That was great. And they were really hot for each other. You know that buzzy, butterfly-y feelings in your stomach that you get when you’re all deep in infatuation and the object of said infatuation says something sexy? Yeah, I had those. The 'Cuda scene was fabulous.

It was a sweet story full of sweet characters, but in the end, it may have been too sweet. And definitely full of problems that threw me out of the story, which is a shame, because the good things here were very good.

This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks | All Romance eBooks.

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