Jen’s review of Risky Business by Amy Andrews
Samantha Evans’s life is going to hell. Not only has she rage-quit her beloved, high-powered job, but she is suddenly afflicted by hormones, free time, and an unavoidable, unignorable, undeniably gorgeous irritant in the form of Nick Hawke, her extreme sports star neighbour, who has come home to take over the reins of his grandmother’s second-hand bookshop. Sam needs something to keep her from begging for her old job back until she’s good and sure her boss understands how wrong he was, and taking a low-risk, low-stress job helping Nick at the bookstore might be just the thing.
After all, it’s not like Nick is the right guy to help her with her hormones. He’ll just be fun to look at while she searches for the one.
Nick has six months to get over an injury before Everest and a big, fat contract beckon. That means no sports, no danger and, above all else, no risks. It means playing it safe. And Nick Hawke doesn’t do safe. So he’s going to need something to stave off the boredom while selling books he doesn’t read to people who wouldn’t know a carabineer from a crochet hook. What could be safer than hiring a cranky, unemployed accountant to help run the bookstore? Sam is efficient and methodical and messing up her neat, post-it note world could be a fun way to pass the time….
Risky Business mixes the classic romance of Philadelphia Story, the humour and wit of When Harry Met Sally, and a strong, contemporary Australian setting to create a delightful, irresistible, utterly satisfying treat of a novel.
I was all set to like this book. The blurb sounded right up my alley (two people who think they want something else realize that they were wrong all along). Plus, it’s set in Brisbane, Australia, which I like. While there were some good things about the book, overall the execution left something to be desired.
I did indeed like the set up. Samantha (Sam) is a young professional who’s always been focused on building her lucrative accounting career. Suddenly, though, she realizes she not only wants a high powered career but also a baby, because her “clock is ticking,” naturally. When she temporarily loses her job because of her jerky boss, she decides to focus on finding a guy with whom she can start a family, rather than one of the losers she usually dates. At the same time, Nick has returned to Brisbane both to take over his beloved grandmother’s romance bookstore and to recover from an injury sustained while mountain climbing. (He’s supposedly a very highly paid “extreme sports star,” though what exactly that entails isn’t quite clear.) He hires Sam to help out in the store until she can get her old job back. The two are majorly attracted but since Nick is basically a nomad who doesn’t believe in relationships, they both realize he wouldn’t fit into her plan, so he offers to help her find a man who can.
So what didn’t I like?
Oh, the cliches! The biggest one is Sam and her ticking clock. She constantly refers to her clock and her “cheeping” eggs. She is basically powerless to resist the pull of her ovaries. Wanting to have a baby was a fine, if not unique, goal for her, but I got so tired of hearing about her anthropomorphic eggs on every other page. And in case you think I’m exaggerating, I searched and found well over 100 mentions of “eggs” in the book, and none of them referring to a breakfast food! Her plan to have a baby is also ridiculous–in the handful of months before she expects to gets her old job back (itself a pretty convenient plot device), she’s going to find an older guy who wants to settle and have babies, get pregnant with him, and then go back to her high powered job. There’s no real consideration for the guy or what he might want, and no real acknowledgment of why she wants a baby other than her “eggs.” The plan makes Sam sound immature and selfish.
There is a ton of weird body image stuff in the book, too. Sam has some major issues with her looks. Again, that can be an interesting conflict to explore, but it’s not really dealt with in a serious way. Instead, Sam is sort of an ugly duckling character. She of course thinks she’s a fat cow, but everyone around her sees her as curvy, voluptuous, and gorgeous. Guys, and gals, can’t keep their eyes off her and are always hitting on her, but she’s repeatedly “shocked” when Nick clues her in. She’s forever disparaging herself and comparing herself to other women, usually putting them down in the process, too. It made her seem very petty and juvenile, and it quickly got frustrating. Worst of all, it’s only Nick’s horniness that eventually (and very abruptly) convinces her she’s not a horrible, ugly beast. I wanted to see some genuine growth and personal transformation, not just “the hot guy thinks I’m hot so I must be!”
The romance bookstore setting was also a little twee and self indulgent. Sure, the store sounds like the kind of place most of us romance readers would adore, but it made no sense why Nick would have taken over his grandmother’s store (he admits he’s never read a romance, seems to know little about running a business, and has his own career already), why he would bother doing a renovation on it, why he would hire Sam when it’s just a tiny shop he could easily staff himself, etc. To be honest, I could have overlooked the setting since it really did sound like a fun fantasy place, but combined with the rest of the cliches it was just too much.
There were moments of potential. For instance, the first time Sam and Nick attempt to have sex, she ends up psyching herself out because of all her insecurities and runs away in the middle. I thought that was actually fairly realistic, and it was kind of refreshing to see sex in a romance novel that wasn’t immediately earth shattering. Nick and Sam also take months to get to know each other before they start their sexual relationship, which made their affection more believable. I also have to give an honorable mention to one of the better typos I’ve seen in a romance novel. At one point Sam is imagining the pattern of her wallpaper looks like “baron velvet uteruses.” Someone please write a romance novel featuring THAT Baron!
Despite the potential, this story just felt a little too formulaic for me to really enjoy it.
Grade: 2.5 out of 5
This title is available from Escape Publishing. You can purchase it here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.