Reon Laudat, $10.99, ISBN 978-1515088257
Contemporary Romance, 2015
Just Her Type is a hybrid of a contemporary romance and a more mainstream-y popular fiction thing. It has strong romantic elements, more so than the typical chick-lit type of story, but the romance is structured in a way that is more reminiscent of mainstream romantic fiction. But what makes this one stand out is its meta plot elements: the hero and the heroine are literary agents – yes, they are still around – and there are many interesting zingers (both nice and naughty) at the whole publishing scene.
Dominic Tobias is a hotshot literary agent who has clients that are from the A- to D-lists, but for a long time now, he notices that his Mr Nice Guy ways often see him being relegated to the friend zone by the women he’d really like to start a relationship with. He’d listen to their stories about their miserable exes, gives them emotional support, and when he tries to make his move, they’d go, eeuw, they see him as a brother or, more dismayingly, they think that he’s their gay best friend. He’s interested in Kendra Porter, and he decides that maybe this time he’d be more like an alpha male. Girls like a challenge, no? Old habits die hard, however.
Kendra, since she’s the heroine, has business troubles. Unlike Dominic, her agency is having a hard time due to the rise of digital and self publishing. The fact that she foolishly uses her meager profits to keep her aunt’s struggling business afloat probably makes things worse. She is attracted to Dominic, but she also realizes that this is probably because he is her type. Yes, she has a type – and when she falls, she loses her head to an extent that she’d let them propose and nearly put a ring on her finger, until she comes back down to earth and realizes that she’s not that into them after all. She’s not keen on going down that messy emotional route with yet another bloke, so she’s going to keep a cool head around him.
This one has all the ingredients for a fun romance, The two characters are too adorable – they like the same things and even wear the same shirts, so it’s apparent that they are just perfect for one another. The heroine also doesn’t come with much of the more contrived issues that tend to bog down heroines of such stories (no weird hangups, no implausible naïveté, etc).
Just Her Type also has plenty of fun playful insight on the publication scene, although I’m not sure how accurate such insight is myself. Even when the author is on a soapbox, it is done in a gentle, often humorous manner that is woven seamlessly into the story. This story is mostly set in a publishing event in Hawaii, so there is plenty of opportunity for the author to bring on the publishing-related zingers. I have a feeling that the author is having a great time writing all these things, and I can’t help feeling the same reading them.
Unfortunately, the romance is paced so sluggishly that it can only trot out publishing-related satirical elements for so long before I get impatient, waiting for things to move faster between Kendra and Dominic. The pace is especially slow in its later half, and I close the book wondering whether it is necessary for the story to be in its current length. It is not that thick a book, but it sure feels like the second coming of War and Peace at times!
A pity. If the pacing had been tightened considerably, this one would have been a hit, as it’s really good when the author is on the roll.