Pocket, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4767-5938-8
Contemporary Romance, 2015
Falling for Jillian isn’t that overt as a tale of wish-fulfillment compared to Kristen Proby’s previous books in her Love Under the Big Sky series, but it still features that hero who swoops in and clasps the heroine to his manly bosom while sheltering her from the ills of the world. The story still takes place in Cunningham Falls, where all the guys are hot and all the women are lacking many things in their lives until they fall in love and get married.
Jillian Sullivan used to be a big city girl until her marriage fell apart and she came back here to lick her wounds. Now a real estate agent, she works in her free time when she’s not spending time with sequel baits and being subjected to their public displays of affection – apparently in this town, once you’re married, you’d be seized by compulsions to nibble on your partner’s ears every ten minutes or so when you’re not compelled to talk about how happy your marriage is and how you can’t wait until your unmarried friend gets hitched too all the bloody time. It’s a bit weird when I realize the characters from previous books spend a lot of time here nibbling on one another’s body part – almost as much as they do in their own books. I guess the author really wants to sell those previous books in this series.
Anyway, back to Jillian. She knows Zack King from way back, but a few months ago, they became more than friends. Of course, the morning after was pretty awkward. He left without a word, didn’t call or anything, and she tried to tell herself that it was better this way, as they both had lousy exes issues and you know how it is. If their hearts ever get broken again, they’d hemorrhage to death, that kind of thing. In this story, however, they just get back together again and start having sex as if all the issues could be swept under the carpet so easily (this is actually a pattern to the author’s other books in the series too – she builds this big dramatic tension between her characters, and then have them back in bed again as if all those issues were so easily forgotten). But with her ex being lousy and so is his ex, can the sad-faced divorcee and the single daddy have a go for real this time around?
As you can probably tell by now, Falling for Jillian is a very familiar story. He’s who you’d think he is, so is she, the secondary characters are predictably nosy and determined to cheer these two on, and the exes are just as predictably awful to the point of one-dimensional cartoon villainy. She claims to be barren, so naturally she just has to conceive before the story ends. Nothing here deviates from the script, so this is a case of getting exactly what is stated on the box, so to speak. You’d have to be really enamored of the author’s writing style here, as the story itself isn’t going to stand out from every other story out there with a similar theme and premise.
Still, the author has drastically toned down the whole “Aw, I’m so special, but shucks, I’d just tell you I’m nobody amazing even as everyone else insists that I am the most awesome and likable darling they’ve ever had the fortune to know, as I’m a humble and real down to earth snowflake, y’all!” tone that makes her previous two books an excursion into advanced stages of diabetes mellitus, so this story is nowhere as cringe-inducing as it could have been. There are also some moments that make me chuckle, such as when Zack gets snippy because Jillian buys a car without him approving every detail of the transaction. That’s such a male thing that I actually snicker.
One thing, though – the author has the characters using a condom but they also find excuses to ditch it for their future boinking sessions. Hey, good for them, but the excuses the author comes up with make me cringe. You see, she has her condition (see the spoiler above if you want to know what that is) and he hasn’t had sex in four years, so they know they are both clean and it’s okay to proceed to “sink in” without a “barrier”! Except, in this case, her ex cheated on her, so how does she know that he didn’t pass anything to her? And STDs aren’t like some kind of rashes that break out immediately upon infection – infected people may show no symptoms and still infect others, and there are STD viruses that can linger for years. So I can only wince when these two self-declare themselves as “clean”.
Why even bring up condoms if the author is just going to show her readers that she knows squat about why one should use them in the first place? Is this some kind of weird anti-condom propaganda, kind of like the anti-vaccine lobby thing? Stop using condoms! Just self-diagnose yourself as free from STDs and stick it in, baby, hallelujah to the orgasm and just pray the hepatitis away!
Anyway, if you can overlook the bizarre “feels over reals” approach to ditching away the condom, and you don’t mind a heavy dose of familiarity in your “divorcee in small town finds single father” stories (the alternating first person points of view may be the only things that distinguish this from more conventional stories of the same theme and story line out there), Falling for Jillian may be worth a look. I hope it’s far more memorable for you than it is for me, though, because I’d have completely forgotten everything about it were not for its weird approach to barebacking, straight people small town style.