Friday, June 25, 2010

I've Got You by Linda Engman

TITLE: I’ve Got You
AUTHOR: Linda Engman
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 61k)
GENRE: Contemporary romance
COST: $5.50

Defense attorney Amber Bradley has a list of everything she is looking for in a man…and not a single prospect of ever finding him. Mechanic Josh Craig is the opposite of what she normally finds attractive, and in the year she’s known him, she’s been able to keep him at arm’s length. But in the small Michigan town in which they both live, keeping their distance isn’t as easy as it sounds…

The trick with opposite attracts stories is to make it plausible that two disparate people would really come together. Sometimes, they work, but more often, they don’t. This one leaned more toward the latter, though it’s as much a flaw of the actual writing as it is the story itself.

Amber Bradley is thirty-one and starting to feel her biological clock ticking away. All the men she dates seem to superficially meet her criteria for a husband – successful, stable, polished – but none is worthy of a second date. She has known mechanic Josh Craig for a year, after having met him at her best friend’s wedding. He’s scruffy, unfocused, and completely ambitionless, and she can’t get over how caveman he always seems to her. In their small Michigan town, however, she sees him quite a lot, especially since he’s best friends with her best friend’s husband. During a particularly bad date, Amber runs into him again, when he has cleaned himself up for a date of his own. She’s taken aback by the change in him, and all of a sudden, can’t get him out of her mind. For his part, Josh has been attracted to Amber from the moment they met, unable to find satisfaction with any of the other women he dates. He can never seem to get her attention, though, no matter what he does.

I got all the way through this, and you know, I’m still not sure why exactly these two think they stand a chance in hell at surviving. From the very beginning all the way through to the end, neither can read the other at all. Both are always misinterpreting what the other person is saying, or what their mood is, or what they’re doing, so much so that I kept wondering throughout the whole story why either of them would ever bother with the other since they both believed the worst of the other person. It’s probably meant to heighten the whole opposites attract appeal, but what it actually did was make me question the validity of their attraction in the first place. Because outside of the superficial and a few specific details about what each wants in their future, these two don’t seem to have any reason to come together. Amber is a successful attorney, meticulous down to the last detail, but she’s ready to chuck it all and settle down, complete with the huge house she’s already built for herself and dreams of six kids. That white picket fantasy is the only thing that seems to bond these two together, because Josh – while polite and gentlemanly old-fashioned – has routine hangovers from getting drunk, and no sense of personal grooming or pride. There are tidbits thrown in to try and round him out – like his military past – but elements of that rarely manifest in his current personality, so much so that the other factors seem like superficial window dressing to try and convince the reader he’s better than he comes across. It’s a shame, because there’s definite heart in some of their scenes, and often at the root of their more thoughtful moments.

None of this is helped by the writing. The author has a propensity for epithets, and can’t seem to decide whether to call her hero Josh or J.T. Both get used interchangeably, with little consistency. The prose is repetitive, sometimes annoyingly so like when a character has a thought and then proceeds to immediately repeat it in dialogue, and the editing is lazy. There are repeated mistakes that should have been caught; I laughed particularly hard at the misspelling, “mock-five.” The use of the small town milieu is inconsistent as well. I’m expected to believe that the three middle-aged cashiers at the grocery store know all about Amber’s love life – or lack thereof – and yet, she has no clue Josh comes from a HUGE family? Especially considering the fact that he’s her best friend’s husband’s best friend? How is that kept a secret? There is more, but that would mean spoilers, and honestly, by that point, when I should have been questioning how someone close to Josh didn’t know the truth about what was going on with him to clear up misinterpretations on Amber’s part, it was too late to save the story for me.

Good intentions aren’t enough to sell the story, no matter how attractive the set-up. Either the writing or the characterization has to be there to back it up. In this case, neither was.


6/10 – Repetition and lazy editing sometimes made it difficult to keep on going


6/10 – Though gruffly likable, very inconsistent


6/10 – Suffers from same inconsistent issues that hero does

Entertainment value

5/10 – Though there’s evident heart in this, inconsistent characterizations and sloppy writing makes it too hard to get involved

World building

6/10 – The small town mentality isn’t consistent, either.



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