by Vanessa Miller, contemporary (2012)
KImani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86336-5
Danetta Harris has been in love with Marshall Windham since forever, but he gave her the "let's just be friends" speech when they were in college. Yet they somehow ended up in business together, with her doing the networking and him, uh, looking pretty, I guess.
At any rate, this story is about how Danetta decides that it's time she moves on with life and seek a potential husband somewhere. What do you know, all of a sudden, the commitment-phobic Marshall decides that maybe he wants Danetta to be more than just his friend! Can these two sort their issues out?
Her Good Thing has one good thing in spades: bouncy humor. The main characters have plenty of sizzle and repartee, and the author's timing when it comes to delivering the one-liners is good. In many ways, Danetta and Marshall play each other off perfectly. Watching them get together is almost prime time entertainment. I said "almost" because this story is also loaded with many unfortunate implications about gender and dating.
The biggest stumbling block to my enjoyment of this story is how badly Marshall treats his many cast-off girlfriends. While the author does acknowledge in some ways that Marshall is not the nicest person around when it comes to treating his cast-off ladies (he doesn't call, stands them up, and generally doesn't give them the straight up about how he's done with them, that kind of thing), for the most part these women are portrayed as hysterical shrews for laughs. And look at me, I'm actually rooting for them to take a chainsaw to his couch like he feared they would.
Marshall can really be an ass, but the deal breaker here is that, even up to the end, he isn't held accountable for his antics. Worse, his constant stance is that he doesn't understand why those crazy women are so upset, and they should be glad that he is too much of a gentleman to hit them back. Oh, really, thank heavens for small mercies!
As for Danetta, she's on the right track when she decides to stop holding out like a pathetic twit for Marshall, especially since she's trapped in this unhappy long period of sexual abstinence that romance authors love to stick their heroines in while the men play all they want, but when Marshall beckons, she pretty much drops everything and goes back to square one - as that pathetic pining lovestruck creature waiting in the wings. So much for progress, I guess.
At the end of the day, Marshall never really learns that he needs to treat women better, or at least grow some testicles and jump off the pot when he doesn't want to play anymore, and Danetta seems to be more in love with him than he her. So what happens when the honeymoon is over and Marshall reverts to being a chicken who plays games with his women? Will Danetta continue waiting on him for another twenty years despite how often he takes her for granted?
For a romance novel, this one sure feels like a tale of a woman who has settled for less, and I don't think that's what I am looking for. It's a shame, really. This one actually brims with humor and chemistry. It's the portrayal of the whole gender and dating thing that spoils the mood.
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