Avon Impulse, $4.99, ISBN 978-0-06-236906-2
This is marketed as the first entry in another new adult series revolving around another broke young lady hustling to make a living (in a not too skanky way, of course) while being pursued by a wealthy bloke who wants to break the bones of any man who looks at her for longer than two seconds. All that are missing are tattoos and horny stepbrothers, although the latter is mentioned in relation to a sequel bait, so there is always hope. Don’t scream or run off to grab a stake, though – Chase Me wants to be a new adult story, but it has romance novel sensibilities, for good and bad.
Roxy Cumberland comes to New York to be an actress, but gigs are not exactly lining up for her. She is reduced to dressing up as a bunny and going around as a singing telegram. She meets Louis McNally the Second when his latest one-night squeeze wants someone to sing to him about his magnificent baton. Louis is besotted at first sight. Alas, the story needs to have some kind of conflict to keep things going, and that’s when things fall apart pretty dramatically.
The best thing about this story is that every page lives, breathes, and oozes chemistry. Roxy and Louis are so fun together, they feel so right as a couple. The author’s way with verbal banter and repartee is natural and funny without being too sitcom-like. When these two are so good together – which is frequent – I can’t help smiling and that’s a good thing. I also like how Louis is a pretty refreshing kind of playboy, in that he is a nice guy who seems to genuinely likes women, as opposed to those brooding tattooed “my mother looked at me funny when I was two and now I hate all women” losers that populate the typical new adult landscape. He is not cruel, stupid, or stuck with some ridiculous baggage.
Roxy isn’t a bad heroine, but the author’s mistakes are all centered around her, so unfortunately, that darling is the weakest link in this story at the end of the day. I like that she has a great sense of humor about most things, but unfortunately, she has a typical romance novel heroine kind of moral compass – the kind that prioritizes weird things over common sense and pragmatism. Oh, Louis got her a spot to audition for a big role! Instead of seeing this as a magnanimous gesture of a rich loaded guy who loves to do nice things for her, she immediately goes OH NO HOW DARE HE, I WANTED TO DO THINGS ON MY OWN – HE HAS DISRESPECTED ME #loveisalie #mylifeisshattered #pagefillerfailure boo hoo hoo. Oh, and she willingly signs up to be a stripper or singing skank birdy, only to be furious or feel humiliated when the hero apparently hires her. Come on, she made her bed, she can sleep on it – who’s judging when the bills need to be paid, sweetheart? If she wants to act and still be as pure as snow, why not join a nunnery and take part in their Christmastime plays or something?
The author wants this book to be a new adult sensation, and since every bestselling series of this sort apparently needs the heroine to have a past involving sordid, usually sex-related traumas, Roxy has one too. This one, however, comes out of the blue later in the story, and it ends up appearing as another drastic attempt to add in some conflict in the story.
Chase Me is a romance novel at heart because of its strong emphasis on the couple as a whole as opposed to single or alternating first person points of view, and there is a strong romance element that doesn’t involve misogyny like every other story of its ilk out there. However, the romance novel-like vibes also extend to Roxy trying her best to emulate those impractical romance heroines that place their pride and obstinacy ahead of common sense. The conflicts all feel like misfired attempts to pad the story. It’s a shame that all these annoying misfires have to share space with a couple who, for the long time, make falling in love seem like the sweetest thing ever.