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Wendy the Super Librarian‘s review of What’s a Housekeeper to Do? by Jennie Adams
Contemporary Romance published by Harlequin Romance 3 May 11

What I find appealing about category is that the shorter word counts mean an immediate strong and intense focus on the romance.  Since I read romance novels for the romance, this is a major plus, in my opinion.  Do you want to know what the kiss of death is for a category romance?  No, not secret babies, billionaire tycoons, or virgin secretaries.  When the book is boring.  Shorter word counts should equate intense conflict and emotional punch.  It should not equate putting me to sleep.

Not only does Lally Douglas have no life, she lacks her own identity.  She has spent her entire adult life catering to her large family and working for them – either as child care or in their small businesses.  But now the unthinkable has happened – nobody in her family needs her.  So she answers an ad for a temporary housekeeper, thinking that once this job is over, surely someone in the family will need her again.

Cameron Travers not only works in property development, he’s a successful crime fiction writer.  Alas, right now, he’s got a lot on his plate.  He’s working on remodeling a new property, he’s got a wicked case of writer’s block, his editor is breathing down his neck, and oh yeah – he’s an insomniac.  He’s hoping that by hiring Lally to handle a lot of the little day-to-day stuff, it will help free up some of his time and maybe kick his muse into gear.  He did not bargain on being attracted to her.

The bulk of my problems with this story occur with Lally’s character.  Or lack thereof.  Now, we’ve all read our fair share of self-sacrificing heroines.  The martyr-types who routinely throw themselves on various fires.  But Lally is different.  She’s painfully vanilla.  I never got a sense that she’s her own person.  Or even that she wants to be her own person.  You know that expression about your family being your anchor?  Well, Lally has strapped that anchor around her neck and is sinking like a stone.  The worst of it is that no one in her family is evil.  They’re nice people.  But it takes them conspiring against her, and lying to her face, for her to go out on her own.

The problem is that I never feel like Lally does that.  She trades taking care of her family for taking care of Cam.  Heroines like this don’t need a romance.  It’s the bloody well last thing they need.  They need to get a life of their own.  An identity.  Something that actually makes me give a damn about them as a character.

The other edge of this sword is that this story lacks any real conflict for a very long time.  Lally has a Big Secret that could have been dynamite dramatically, but it comes off with a fizzle.  It does help to explain why she is the way she is, but the lack of urgency to what few teasing bread crumbs the author drops early on just aren’t enough to make me care.  Cam seems like an OK sort of bloke, but even with all his baggage, he never rises above mild interest for me.

At the end of the day, Lally’s bad first impression that drags on and on, coupled with the lack of urgency, and this is one deadly dull read for me.  It may appeal to those readers who find themselves burnt out on over-the-top angst or characters with so much baggage you wonder how they’re not in a psychiatric hospital.  But all the way through this one I found myself yearning for something, Dear Lord, anything to happen.  It just never did.

Wendy TSLGrade: D


Being housekeeper to crime writer Cameron Travers should be a pretty simple, safe job—just what Lally Douglas wants. Once burned, forever shy Lally wants to blend into the background.

Cameron Travers is attractive, intelligent, fun and very charming! Soon Lally wants to wear all colors of the rainbow and embrace life. Most of all she wants Cameron to notice her, in that way.

Read an excerpt.