Wednesday, July 13, 2011

No Matter What by Erin Nicholas

TITLE: No Matter What
AUTHOR: Erin Nicholas
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 64k)
GENRE: Contemporary romance
COST: $5.50

Millionaire Adam Steele is determined to hire the best pediatric physical therapist money can buy to help his daughter walk again. Jaden Monroe needs a million dollars to see her dream of a rehab center come true. It should be a match made in heaven, but two stubborn personalities might just short-circuit what’s truly important for both of them…

Sometimes, a simple contemporary is exactly what the doctor ordered. In the wake of a rather stressful month, I decided to get back onto the reading wagon with something relatively unchallenging and ended up being pleasantly entertained as a result.

Though she’s a physical therapist by trade, Jaden Monroe is working as a bartender when the story opens. She lost her job five months earlier, in a rather scandalous fashion, and has been struggling to get her life back in order ever since. In walks Adam Steele. She’s attracted to him before they’re introduced, but then he offers her a million dollars to become the private therapist for his fourteen-year-old daughter. He’s determined his daughter will have the life she had before cancer took away one of her legs, and he’s convinced Jaden is the one who can make that happen. In spite of her misgivings about working in such close quarters with a man she’s attracted to, Jaden accepts the challenge. She needs the money to finish paying for the rehab wing on the hospital she worked for, a promise she made to a lot of people before real life circumstances changed everything. Adam’s daughter Emily is resistant to therapy, but once she meets her, Jaden is just as determined as Adam is to do what has to be done.

The story starts out strong, with a crackling attraction between the two leads. Adam is compelling and sexy, while Jaden has a relatability even when she’s down on her luck. Her inner strength and determination to rise above her privileged background go a long way in humanizing her, especially in light of Adam’s abundance of riches. He’s a lot like a Harlequin hero, too handsome, too rich, too good to be true. Still, in spite of that, I found myself falling him as much as Jaden did. Much of that stems from his devotion to his daughter. There’s definitely something appealing about a strong man being such a loving father. That luster fades a little as the story progresses and his fears begin to turn his behavior erratic. It’s understandable why he reacts the way he does, but for the last fourth of the story, his emotions seemed to swivel on a dime. I might not have cared as much about the shift if he wasn’t such a control freak for much of the book. Even when he claims to be overwhelmed or lose control in front of Jaden, it’s nothing like his extreme overreactions in those last few pages.

Jaden remains more consistent throughout the story. She’s strong, intelligent, and insecure enough to be believable. The only aspect of her that I found stretching credibility was her five-year asexual relationship prior to meeting Adam, but that’s a minor blip in an otherwise strong heroine.

The story is paced well, and the details surrounding the physical therapy and dealing with Emily’s problems crisp and genuine. They help to bring to life an otherwise bland contemporary setting and give the characters a sense of verisimilitude to round them out further. Emily’s progression is not only realistic, but the attitudes she presents scream authentic for a teenaged girl. In a lot of ways, she’s the glue that holds the story together, both in providing fodder for the plot to progress as well as the emotional core to bring the two protagonists together. At story’s end, while I was satisfied with the HEA, Emily was the one I was curious about following further. I was invested in her, just as much as Jaden and Adam were.

In fact, it’s when her part of the plot gets resolved that things start unraveling. For the last fourth of the story, events seem to occur too easily and too swiftly, out of proportion with the plot points of the rest of the book. I was disappointed with the sudden switching of emotions and thought too much of what was important for me as a reader played off the page instead of on it. It came together for the last chapter, but it lets down what could’ve been a really good piece of escapism.


8/10 – Compulsively readable until the last quarter where it got too easy


7/10 – It’s hard not to fall for a caring father, but his sudden switches in mood to create conflict in the last third wore thin


8/10 – Strong, relatable, without being too unrealistic

Entertainment value

7/10 – I was really enjoying this until the too-fast turnarounds and what felt like contrived conflicts of the end

World building

8/10 – For a contemporary, surprisingly realistic. The aspects of all the physical therapy and disabilities were well thought out and genuine



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