No Matter What
by Erin Nicholas, contemporary (2009)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-687-7

I'm currently experiencing a bit of a slump where electronically published titles are concerned. When I came across the synopsis for No Matter What, I was intrigued enough to give this one a try. It promised to be something different from the usual werewolf and vampire shagfest, after all.

Dr Jaden Monroe is a physical therapist who is currently moonlighting as a bartender after an embarrassing cock-up at her workplace involving an ex-boyfriend. Adam Steele needs someone who can help her daughter Emily walk again, and he knows that Jaden is still one of the best there is despite her recent, uh, drama. He offers her a million dollars for her services. Jaden accepts, thinking of how satisfying it will be when she donates the money to the new children rehab wing of the hospital where she used to work for. How's that for validation? As Jaden coaxes Emily out of the wheelchair, she and Adam will have to decide whether they should contain the attraction between them or just get naked and rock the house from side to side.

The second half of the story, at some point after our two main characters start working on exorcising their base desires on each other, is easily the best part of the story. There are emotional drama aplenty, angst, heart-to-heart discussions, and other stuff that have me convinced that perhaps, Jaden and Adam really are in love after all. Even their porn-film actor names don't feel so laughable any more at that point. My greatest fear is that Emily would be the saccharine-sweet monster from cute hell, but to my relief, she's also quite... sympathetic.

But the first half of the story is riddled with one-dimensional and sometimes comical mental lusting that renders the main characters into caveman-like randy cartoon characters. All they think about is to jump the other person's bones! This half is also plagued by conversations that often feel scripted and false (particularly the "banters" between Jaden and Adam's brother Tony).

No Matter What is therefore, I feel, more like an unpolished diamond than anything else. The author demonstrates that she is capable of giving her story some much-needed emotional intensity and depth, but the overall product is still very rough around the edges. I think I'd keep an eye out on the author's next few books to see where she goes from where.

Rating: 77

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