I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Only You by Denise Grover Swank
Series: The Bachelor Brotherhood #1
Published by Forever on June 14th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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"Warm and funny, the first book in the Bachelor Brotherhood series reads like a great Hollywood rom-com." -- iBooks Best Books of JuneA Bachelor Brotherhood Novel
Never say never . . .
Romance isn't an option for Holly Greenwood. With her wedding planner career on the line she needs to stay focused, and that means pleasing her demanding boss, not getting distracted by her mind-alteringly hot neighbor . . .
Ex-Marine Kevin Vandemeer craves normalcy. Instead, he has a broken-down old house in need of a match and some gasoline, a meddling family, and the uncanny ability to attract the world's craziest women. At least that last one he can fix: he and his buddies have made a pact to swear off women, and this includes his sweetly sexy new neighbor.
After one hot night that looks a whole lot like a disaster in the light of day, Kevin and Holly are about to learn that true love doesn't play by the rules . . .
For the most part, I thought Only You was a cute read, though insta-love is not my favorite trope. When one of the characters said something about the strength of their feelings after only a week and a half of knowing each other, I had to go back and confirm that that was correct. (I didn’t necessarily think Swank had screwed up her own timeline, but it just seemed so inconceivable to me, especially since most of their contact during that week and a half was short. Only a few minutes at a time. They didn’t even go on a date.)
Holly works for Kevin’s mother, though neither of them realize it at first. Her boss, Nicole, has already put a stop to Holly being friends with Kevin’s sister, Megan, so once they figure it out, they both know that she’ll probably fire Holly if she gets involved with Kevin. So after one steamy night together, they decide to be just friends. (See, this is the kind of stuff I mean about the insta-love. Vandermeer isn’t the most common last name, which tells me Holly and Kevin hadn’t even exchanged last names before they were deciding they were in love with each other. Kevin’s mom, Nicole, apparently complained about her incompetent assistant all the time, but somehow did so without ever saying Holly’s name?)
For the most part, Holly saved this book for me. This was definitely what Sarah Wendell has referred to as “competence porn”. Holly is great at her job as a wedding planner. And she knows it. She’s just putting up with Nicole long enough to learn what she can and build her reputation, then she’s going to open her own event planning company. She has one high-profile wedding coming up that should cement that opportunity for her, as long as she can get the wedding to actually take place. The bride is a fairly immature, temperamental nightmare who has gone through at least five wedding planners already, and is three weeks away from her wedding when she hires Holly.
Kevin is a little less developed. He’s a former Marine who has just moved home to spend time with his family, though he seems to do his best to avoid his mother at any cost. But his sister Megan is pregnant with her first child, and he wants to be around to get to know his new niece or nephew. He goes to work for an old friend of his and there’s a little bit of drama there that I assume will continue in further books in the series since it wasn’t resolved here. It’s clear that he wants Holly, but what’s less clear is exactly why. He mentions that she’s different than any other woman he’s dated before, but other than saying Holly isn’t crazy like they are, I don’t know what that means.
And that was another thing that drove me nuts. Other than Holly and Megan, every other woman in this book was a complete nutcase. Every single one. Nicole is a demanding, demeaning shrew, constantly taking credit for Holly’s work. Bethany is just nuts, convinced that she can only drink wine from English-speaking countries because if you ingest food that doesn’t speak the same language as you, it can cause digestive discomfort. Seriously. Kevin’s most recent ex had a pretty out-there fetish that caused him to break up with her. His friends Matt and Tyler both had stories that were equally bad – stalkers and criminals. Even Holly’s cousin Melanie, who started out fairly normal, and who I think is supposed to be a heroine in a future book, morphed into a crazy shrieking shrew by the end of the book. I get really frustrated with characterizations like that. Literally every single woman except our heroine was a complete disaster.
But the scenes with Kevin and Holly were wonderful – realistic and so well done. Holly knows that she’s at a pivotal point in her career, and she has to put that above her relationship status, at least long enough to complete this huge wedding she’s working on. Kevin, after trying to come up with a different solution, realizes she’s right and respects her decision. He really does give being just friends a shot, though obviously it doesn’t work too well, or we wouldn’t have much of a story.
The end, though. The end tanked it for me a little bit. View Spoiler »If a bride decides, minutes before the ceremony, that she’s not going to go through with it, you can’t just substitute another couple and go on with the wedding. There’s paperwork involved. There are legal issues involved. As a wedding planner, Holly would know this. You can go on with a fake wedding for the sake of the photo shoot, but it’s made very clear that that is not what’s happening here. « Hide Spoiler And, again, they’ve only known each other for a month.
Overall, this was a nice introduction to Denise Grover Swank. I liked the writing enough to read more of her stuff if I came across it, but I don’t know if I’d seek it out. She did a great job with our main couple, but the rest of the cast was a bit of a mixed bag.