June 2012, Contemporary Romance
Avon, $5.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0062088971
The first couple of pages, or even chapters, definitely make an impression on me, and that impression usually is a good indicator of whether I will like a book or not. My first thoughts of this book were not favorable, and no matter how long I read, the author never changed my mind.
After a year-and-a-half away Ryan Blake feels like he has the needed maturity to handle being a fireman again. Even though he was the best firefighter in the unit, Captain Brody was unable to overlook Ryan's daredevil, reckless behavior. Because of his hot-dog attitude in rushing out to a fire alone, a young woman who sneaked into the station’s pickup truck to surprise him was driven from the station to a fire. Her life was put in jeopardy after she suffered a gunshot wound at the chaotic scene. Ryan was given the choice of a leave of absence or being fired, so he chose a leave of absence.
Now he is back and plans to beg the captain for a second chance. But first he needs a drink or two for dutch courage. Of course he doesn’t want to be seen in any of the popular bars and the Hair of the Dog looks like the perfect loser place to get blotto. He is ready to work his easy charm on the female bartender but she is either a misandrist or he is losing his touch. Ah, just what he needs – a challenge.
Talk about being out of her element. There is no way that Katie Dane should be managing her father’s bar. She has never been interested in restaurant business, marketing entrepreneurship or even working with people. She has almost a year under her belt of graduate studies in nineteenth-century French literature. But after her father’s heart attack, her mother pleaded with her to take over the business while she hustled her husband off to Mexico for a much needed stress reducing vacation. And of course Katie caved. How could she not agree?
But her mother refuses to let her talk to her father about business, so she is left to deal with the past due bills and overdue salaries. She is scrambling to come up with ideas to bring in paying customers because the only people that seem to patronize the place are a group of motley men her dad calls the “Drinking Crew” and they insist that her dad lets them run a tab. If it is not bad enough that she has to worry about the beer distributor cutting them off, she discovers an overdue insurance premium for ten thousand dollars. When her happy hour idea of doggie night - a play on the bar’s name Hair of the Dog - results in potential customers bringing their dogs to the bar instead of pictures of their dogs, Ryan steps in and defuses the situation. And since he is such eye candy, enticing the women whose presence then brings in the men, she offers him the temporary position of bartender. Maybe things are looking up.
I do realize that this book is written to be humorous but for me it missed the mark in every way. From the very first chapter the plot aspects made no sense. Ryan has spent a year and a half finding his Zen – even spending time in a monastery - but he needs to get “blotto” before his meeting with his captain. That sure puts a new spin on maturity. Katie is as rude as can be to Ryan for no reason but he immediately finds that attractive? If a heroine has a valid cause for her disdain then I can go with the flow, but her off-the-wall comments are not my idea of clever repartee.
I found the premise that Katie’s parents would leave her running an almost bankrupted bar without any help ludicrous. And that she felt obligated to continue serving non-paying customers liquor unbelievable.
However the pièce de résistance is the solution the heroine comes up with to get out of debt. Honestly it dumbfounded me and turned the heroine into a TSTL heroine. The fact that Ryan is able to overlook this part of her personality turned him into a TSTL character too. In this book, Ms. Bernard doesn’t display the needed comedic talent to make this scenario funny. Although to be honest, I am not sure any author would have the talent to do that.
The more I thought of the story after closing the book, the more I disliked it. It is almost like the heroine and hero’s lack of integrity make a mockery of the author’s dedication. This is not a book I recommend.
-- Leigh Davis
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