by Robyn Anders, contemporary (2005)
Books For A Buck, $2.99, ISBN N/A
Tyler Atwood, our billionaire hero, soon learns quickly that his money can't buy at least one thing in this world: the good behavior of his late sister Amanda's golden retriever Harvey. After Harvey has gone through the antique Shaker chair and the original Picasso, among other things, the last straw has to be the fact that Harvey has also destroyed the liquor cabinet, thus cutting off poor Tyler's sole mean of trying to drown his sorrows. In the three weeks since Tyler has inherited Harvey, Harvey has driven off five dog trainers (some who actually have TV shows about dog obedience) and allowed Tyler to be on the first name basis with some of the friendly local neighborhood cops.
At least, hope and salvation may be at hand: one of the cops, Clarence, suggests that Tyler contact Clarence's cousin's best friend Courtney Zane. Courtney Zane is a pet psychologist. Wait, there's really such a thing as a pet psychologist? And here I am thinking they made up such a job on those daytime talkshows I happen to watch now and then. At any rate, Courtney is actually doing pretty well for a technically homeless person although she finds herself with oddball clients like Mrs Gamble who wants to cuddle with her goldfish. Well, at least she just wants to cuddle the goldfish, I suppose. I've seen an episode of one of those creepy daytime talkshows where this guy is in tears because he's not allowed to make his bulldog his legal wife. Naturally the host had a "pet psychiatrist" sit in to weigh in on the situation when, if you ask me, they should have ordered the men in white coats to step in and drag the fellow to a dogless nuthouse.
Back to Courtney, of course she and Tyler feel this attraction between them the moment they meet. Courtney however feels that Tyler is causing Harvey to behave that way since poor Harvey obviously has abandonment issues and feeling some guilt over Amanda's death. She also thinks that Tyler should give Harvey a job of some sort so that Harvey will feel more useful and therefore less prone to destroying expensive original artworks. Tyler has an even better idea: Courtney can train Harvey for him (yes, he clearly isn't listening to Courtney) and if space is an issue since Courtney's office isn't exactly a spacious one, she can move in to his super-duper billionaire mansion for the time it takes to train Harvey. Living in a luxurious mansion and getting paid for it? Goodness, where do I sign up for this job? Naturally it takes a crazy person - like a romance heroine - to turn down the offer. That crazy woman even scolds Tyler for being unable to intuitively deduce Harvey's psychological problem in five seconds like she can. But Tyler can be a very persuasive fellow, naturally.
I've had my share of dogs from hell under my roof - I still shudder at how this puppy, which was so cute I first saw it, turned out to be a monster that ate every shoe and slipper in sight before it moved on to using the beds and sofas as its personal toilet. Thankfully I was only babysitting the puppy for a friend of mine so I only had to cower in my room for a week before it was taken back by its owner. And really, it behaves so well when it's with its owner! Robyn Anders's The CEO's S.O.S. therefore is only a little exaggerating when it comes to Harvey and I don't find the premise too cartoonish.
On the other hand, I find Courtney of those "kooky" heroines who annoyingly enough tries at first to drive the hero away by coming up with unfair judgments about his character. She then moans about how the hero is keeping her at arm's length, which is basically what she was doing to him until she decides to change the rules once she decides that she likes him. It is as if she automatically gets the right to get into his head just because she's ready to stop acting like a judgmental stand-offish twit. Courtney also has plenty of stereotypical issues about her biological clock, her unsuccessful love life in the past, and her issues with male authority figures.
Tyler isn't the most original character, but unlike Courtney whose stereotypical personality traits come together to work against her, Tyler gets to be a charming and easy-going fellow whose happy-go-lucky facade hides some determination and intelligence that allowed him to be a self-made man that rebuilt his family fortune after his father went bankrupt a long time.
Everything Courtney does is predictable in a depressing and annoying manner, right down to her expected tendency to run away from Tyler just because she's attracted to him and therefore it's time to start overreacting in a hysterical manner. Tyler treats her nice? Time to whine about how depressing it is that she will have to worry about being rejected by Tyler since she is terrible at dealing with rejections and she has never had an orgasm before and the cow jumps over moon and falls flat on Courtney, silencing her much to my relief. Tyler acts distant towards her? Time to whine about how depressing that is. For a story about love and dogs, Courtney is really starting to come off like a real dog here.
On the other hand, Tyler is a pretty adorable hero and despite Courtney's Annoying Heroine Behavior 101 antics, he manages to strike up some chemistry with her that's really surprisingly good considering how annoying Courtney is as a character. Usually I would go, "Ha! Cop-out!" but in this case, I'm so grateful when Tyler shags Courtney and after she's experienced her first big O, she suddenly realizes that Tyler isn't so bad after all and her insecurities - for now - all evaporate in the blissful mornings after. At least for a few pages, that is, until Courtney starts getting angry because Tyler wants to spend more money on her, which is, to a romance heroine who's bonkers, is naturally a sign of his irresponsibility. Courtney, honey, if you want true love while sleeping in a box on the streets, please do go ahead and do step in front of a bus while you're at it. Leave the generous billionaires to us sane women of the world, okay?
Now, where was I? Oh yes, Courtney must die. Truthfully speaking, I adore the hero, the dog Harvey, and even Tyler's mother is pretty adorable. All the way to the last chapter, however, Courtney persists in acting like a textbook example of a self-absorbed whackjob heroine direly in need of a face-on collision with a reality schoolbus. If the heroine isn't a collection of the worst annoying heroine stereotypes in the romance genre, I would have a fabulous time with The CEO's S.O.S. because the comedic timing is well done and the hero is a dreamy and adorable hunk. Oh, and the dog is cute too. I really like this book, but not enough to stop wishing a painful death on the heroine. Maybe we can stuff her head into a goldfish tank and watch her drown slowly? Just a suggestion, really.
Search for more reviews of works by this author: