I generally review romance, paranormal and urban fantasy. I tend to pick review books that I want to read, so generally my reviews will be positive. I always give my honest opinion: good, bad, and indifferent.
Note: on my blog I use a letter grading system. I've listed the ratings below. For sites with stars, I have listed the equivalent rating. If I didn't finish the book, I will not rate it with stars.
A+ Personal Favorite (5 stars)
A Loved It (4.5 or 5 stars)
A- Enjoyed A Lot (4 or 4.5 stars)
B+ Liked It A Lot (4 stars)
B Liked It -- Recommend (4 stars)
B- Liked It -- But I had a few small issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C+ Liked It -- But I had issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C Finished It -- Liked some, didn't like some (3 stars)
C- Finished It -- Liked a little, didn't like a lot (2 or 2.5 stars)
D Not A Big Fan (2 stars)
E Don’t Waste Your Time (1 star)
TW: Reading this book was like watching a Train Wreck
DNF: Did Not Finish
updated July 9, 2015
Rating: B Liked It, Recommend
Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About
Review copy provided by NetGalley
Judi Fennell introduces readers to the Manley sibling via a short prologue at the start of her newest title, What a Woman Wants. Sister Mary-Alice Catherine (Mac) challenges each of her older siblings: Sean, Bryan, and Liam, to working for her maid service company for 4 weeks if she wins the poker hand, and of course, she is successful.
What a Woman Wants shares brother Sean’s story while he “serves his time” cleaning and maintaining the historic Martinson property. His Heritage Corporation buys historic buildings and converts them to bed & breakfasts. Now he has his eye on the expansive Martinson site, having spent nearly a year working with Merriweather Martinson on a sales agreement for her estate prior to her death.
Meanwhile Merriweather’s granddaughter, Olivia (Livvy) Carolla, arrives at the estate after finding out she will inherit the property, if she satisfactorily completes a scavenger-like puzzle Merriweather stipulated in her will. Livvy has no love-loss for her grandmother, whom she hasn’t seen since she was a small child and is torn on whether or not she wants to live in the home where she felt shunned her whole life. Thinking she has an ally in Sean, Livvy shares the journey with him, enlisting his help to solve the puzzle.
What a Woman Wants is a delightful contemporary romp with an easy-going story and smoothed-edged conflicts. The story is a quick read, with few twists and turns, but packed with enough enjoyable fluff to make me smile. While the story focuses on the relationship of Livvy and Sean, the book (and the series) is grounded in the ties of close-knit kin with strong moral values and sense of family.
Livvy had a rough childhood: shipped off to boarding schools and never knowing anyone in her family. Yet she turned out to be a kind and caring woman. She is an “earthy-crunchy” gal: organic farmer and baker. She owns several (dozens) of animals, who are her life. At times she can be a bit of a train-wreck, but has her head firmly on her shoulders.
Likewise, Sean has a plan and expects success. While he initially plots to win the house out from under Livvy, his strong sense of family values instilled in him by his grandmother, won’t allow him to do anything to jeopardize Livvy. I adore how his instinct for survival meshes with his natural chivalrous nature.
Each experiences an immediate attraction for the other, which was steamy at times, but a bit over-the-top also. I don't read contemporaries often at all, so maybe this is normal, but it seems like Sean's immediate and insanely strong attraction to Livvy is unrealistic. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the kissing. However, his feelings (via his POV) seem extreme for someone he just met and even says to himself is "not his usual type."
As the story progresses, their mutual lust pulls and pushes as they circle one another, simultaneously fighting and indulging in their feelings. I found I enjoyed Livvy’s devil-may-care attitude as she makes her intentions towards Sean apparent. And I also adored the prolonged flirtation, which allows the pair to get to know one another before sex… However, after a while, I found myself growing weary of the whole “I want to, but shouldn’t” inner monologues from Sean. His hot then cold attitude and desires became repetitious after a while.
Sean and Livvy’s journey discovering the family and estate’s history is fun, and different from anything I’ve read before. While the clues are a bit silly, the scavenger hunt is a great tool, which allows the characters to grow in a short period of time. I did get confused a couple of times on the follow-through (or lack there of) on some of the puzzle pieces, but generally, it made for an entertaining plot. I do wish there had been a little more follow up on a couple of items, but there aren’t any major loose ends when all is said and done.
The ending is perfect, and this is where Ms. Fennell excels. She makes the sweet, and even sappy, something enjoyable and heart-warming. As everything comes to light, I found myself with a few tears in my eyes. I feel that What a Woman Wants is a simple, yet engaging story filled with light-hearted romance. It made me smile.