Jules Barnard, $4.99, ISBN 978-1942230-84-7
Contemporary Romance, 2017
Here’s an embarrassing confession: I was intrigued by Jules Barnard’s Daring Wes, despite having never read any other previous books about the Cade brothers, because the author advertised the hero as a pro in doing naughty things to a woman using his mouth. What I get instead is a story so contrived to a degree that the author turns the characters into imbeciles just to keep up the contrivance.
Wes Cade and Kaylee McDumdum were high school sweethearts until she dumped him shortly before he was to compete in a big golf tournament. The poor guy tanked that tournament, and he’s blamed her for his golf career being reduced to running the family pro shop ever since then. Well, she’s now back… to take up golfing lessons so that she can play golf with her fiancé on their honeymoon trip. Oh my god – has the entire country run out of golf schools, or is Kaylee just a dumb dumb?
At any rate, Wes and she start bickering and behaving like children. She keeps flinching and giving him fearful glances, until she gets horny and then what I suppose is true love then shines out of her eyes, because a relationship that has the hero so “alpha” that the heroine alternates between being scared and being lusty is just what I need in my story. Meanwhile, because we need to keep disgusting pee-pees that are not attached to the hero from the heroine’s precious jewelry box, the author has Kaylee insisting that she doesn’t want to sleep with her fiancé until the time is right, and the fiancé is then depicted as an unpleasant donkey because he wants some from her.
That man turns out to be a scumbag, leaving Kaylee all tearful and weepy, so now Wes naturally softens and goes all aww, baby over her. Meanwhile, he teaches some little girl how to play golf without casting aspersions on that girl the way he does to Kaylee, so our heroine goes, aww, he’s actually a good guy. What happens is basically every single trope you can think of in a Harlequin Temptation book cropping up one after another – including the heroine whining that she can never have children only to suddenly being knocked up, I guess either because the hero’s sperm is magical or the heroine is truly a colossal idiot that can never get anything right – all introduced in a way that feels designed to make me want to rest my cheek against the table and sob brokenly.
People don’t talk or behave normally – they are cheerleaders that somehow know that Wes and Kaylee belong together despite the two of them behaving more like cranky children fighting over the last slice of cake. Things happen because of plot rather than consistency – for example, our heroine insists on chastity and purity when it comes to her fiancé, but when it comes to Wes, it’s all no until it’s YES YES YES YES baby, snort. By the time the hero demonstrates his prowess on a woman’s nether area with his mouth, I’m no longer in the mood. I’d be happier if he’d just be quiet and take his missus far, far away from me. Oh, and the rest of the creepy, cult-like hive mind secondary characters can go away too.
It also doesn’t help that the author’s narrative style resembles the petulant sulking of a teenage girl, with Wes cussing in a most juvenile way so often while the author comes up with childish nicknames for the characters everyone is supposed to dislike. This story does everything in its power to make me loathe it as much as my blood pressure will allow.
Nothing about this story feels like an organic tale; instead, it’s as if the author wrote this thing while ticking off the items in some “things you simply must have in a bestselling romance” list. If you dare to take a chance of Daring Wes, I hope you really enjoy being overdosed on contemporary romance clichés.