REVIEW: Mr. Right There All Along by Jackie Braun

Friday, August 5, 2011 1:00
Posted in category Review

Wendy the Super Librarian‘s review of Mr. Right There All Along by Jackie Braun
Contemporary Romance published by Harlequin Romance 2 Aug 11

I am an unrepentant sucker for the Friends to Lovers trope.  I could blame it on the fact that I’ve been there, done that – but I think there’s more to it.  Ever notice how the characters in these types of stories tend to be flat-out nice people?  People who truly deserve their happily-ever-after?  Yeah, more of that, please.

Chloe McDaniels just got an invitation to her ten-year high school reunion.  High school was not a joyous time for Chloe, who was tormented by three pretty popular girls she called The Unholy Trinity.  The only reason she stayed sane, and got through it, was because of her best friend, Simon Ford.  They literally grew up together, living in the same New York City apartment building.  To this day they are still best friends.  Chloe doesn’t have a best girlfriend, she has Simon.  Simon doesn’t go out to the bar to watch the game with his buddies – he’s got Chloe.

Simon went from geek to hunk to successful businessman.  He thinks Chloe is still too hung up on high school but also thinks she should go to the reunion to exorcise some demons.  She might not think she’s much, but Simon thinks she’s funny, vibrant, kind, intelligent….and sexy?  Hey, where did that come from?  No, no, no.  He can’t find Chloe sexy.  Chloe is his best friend.  The last thing he wants is to muck that up!

This is a lovely, sweet story.  The very best parts for me are when the characters have to confront aspects of their pasts, as well as certain personality traits.  Chloe needs to learn to grow a backbone.  To not let people, namely her boss and sister, walk all over her.  Simon needs to work through his complicated relationship with his father, a man who disposes of wives like Kleenex.  He also has abandonment issues that have made him gun-shy over exploring a potential romantic relationship with Chloe.

I suspect if there is going to be a stumbling block for readers in this story, it will be Chloe.  Part of me thought she should “get over it” in regards to high school, but ten years would put her around 28, so I could roll with her still working through all that bullying.  However, she does come off as slightly dense in regards to the signals Simon is throwing out at her.  It’s a cute, befuddled dense, but I can seem some readers wanting to shake her until her teeth rattle.  That being said, I’ve been here, done that – and from personal experience?  It’s easy to miss that one tree in the forest, even when said tree is literally smacking you in the face with a heavy branch.

The emotional moments at the end are just the right touch, and while I suspect some readers will wish that Chloe verbally confronts her old tormentors, I love the way this book ends.  Not only do Simon and Chloe get a clue, but Chloe really seems to be ready to “let go” of the past.  For that matter, so does Simon.  I think these two crazy kids are going to be just fine.

Wendy TSLGrade: B+

Summary:

Could her best friend be her best match?

The one thing Chloe McDaniels has always depended on is her friendship with Simon Ford. Even if it’s been tough thinking of the gorgeous guy who makes her heart flutter as just a friend! But now, with their upcoming high school reunion dredging up memories of bullies and broken hearts, she needs him more than ever.

As Chloe plans to unveil her new-and-improved self, Simon creates a plan of his own.

Step One: Show her that love is worth the risk.

Step Two: Give her the happy-ever-after she deserves.

Read an excerpt.

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