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 Mandi. 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 Mandi's review:

The book may be titled No Ordinary Joe, but, truth be told, Joe is pretty ordinary. Except for his lack of billionaire status, Joe is your typical contemporary hero. Handsome, emotionally unavailable, and kind (hidden by his requisite rough exterior). He has a broken/wary heart, a successful business, meddling family/friends, and the perfect five year-old daughter. So, honestly, an ordinary Joe. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I've come to expect series romances to be either entertainingly bad or cute diversions and Ordinary Joe is the perfect hero for either set-up. Unfortunately, the book just didn't live up to its hero.

Despite the title of this book, the story is not really about Ordinary Joe. Riley is the focus, and heroine, of this tale. She is the typical small-town girl with big-city dreams (in this particular retelling, she wants to be a Nashville Star). Of course, she has the talent and the determination to make her dreams come true. And of course she runs into the requisite challenges along the way (in this particular scenario, her stolen car filled with all of her cash and worldly possessions).

Perfect hero, classic story… so what's the problem? Down-on-Her-Luck Barbie is the princess in this modern-day fairy tale.

As we all know, Barbie is one lucky bitch; this is even true when she is down on her luck. Sure, her ride, her money, and her clothes were stolen. But no worries. She is instantly offered a ride to Ordinary Joe's bar where she is instantly offered a job because, luckily, the bartender is temporarily out due to a broken appendage. This is followed by friendly townsfolk, needed amenities in the form of a care package, a $60/week apartment, transportation, and even Barbie's wardrobe.

“Lindy’s friend Zoey had awesome taste in clothes. Reily dumped both bags out onto the bed to sort them. Other than undergarments, she wouldn’t have to buy a single stitch of clothing. There were jeans and shorts and shirts, blouses, T-shirts and tank tops. There were even two bikini bathing suits and a couple of luxuriously soft satin nightshirts. Everything looked brand-new, or close to it, and had been freshly laundered.”

Don't get me wrong, I understand how important it is that Barbie has the right wardrobe, but the luck doesn't stop there. She happens to walk by at just the right time to recognize her mother's guitar which, luckily, happened to be bought by a local kid on his most recent Denver trip. Which is lucky, because she needs the guitar when she gets to be the lead in the hottest local band. She is even lucky when she loses her temporary bartender job, because that allows Ordinary Joe to hire her to play nanny and housekeeper at an even higher pay. Of course the real benefits are that she now has the opportunity to get close to Ordinary Joe/perfect daughter and to demonstrate her own domestic goddessness. Luckily, the standard primary caregiver, Ordinary Joe's aunt, needed a vacation just when Barbie had lost her bartending job.

But we all know that Barbie doesn't just have the perfect life and accessories; she is perfect. She is hot, smart, and can even sing. She looks great in her hand-me-down (but still new) jeans and knows antique cars. She is even forgiving.

“I’m sure she had her reasons for acting that way, and I’m guessing they have a lot more to do with her being unhappy than anything I did.”

So with Down-on-Her-Luck Barbie playing the female lead, why haven't I tossed this book into the entertainingly bad category and called it a win? Because, except for Barbie, it's really not a bad book. There are some well written passages that are cute and charming. The perfect daughter, while a little too perfect, is also perfectly adorable. The romance is predictable, but engaging.

It's too cute and well written to be entertainingly bad, but Down-on-Her-Luck Barbie is way to jarring to allow No Ordinary Joe to fall into the cute diversion category. Instead, it falls into that almost category; it's almost good enough/bad enough to be enjoyed.

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

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