Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4926-4964-9
Contemporary Romance, 2017
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Caridad Pineiro’s One Summer Night… as long as you don’t mind stories about a heroine willingly hurling herself to a terrible, terrible end and, without any effort on her part, is saved from that end by the hero fortunately deciding to marry her and hence solving all her financial problems.
That woman, Maggie Sinclair, is at the verge of bankruptcy and homelessness. You see, her family business is Maxwell’s, the kind of upscale retail store in Fifth Avenue that always look so cute in romantic comedies, especially when it’s snowing outside, but is positively slaughtered when it comes to real world economic feasibility, thanks to the internet and smaller stores that cater to hipster tastes. Our heroine knows this, but her father refuses to change anything about the business.
Because our heroine lives only to win her daddy’s approval – no, really, she talks about how she’s doing it for herself, the employees, the unicorns, and the winged poodles of Pandaria, but in the end, all is forgiven when her daddy finally gives her his approval – she has mortgaged not only the family home but everything else that she has to her name, each mortgage giving Maxwell’s a few months of reprieve. This is clearly not even a good band aid solution to the sinking business, and Maggie has run out of things to mortgage. Not only is she going to have no home to stay in, she may have to start selling her kidneys next. Still, it’s worth it, because – DADDY!
Fortunately, Owen Pierce runs a super-successful construction business. See? Problem solved. All she has to do is to marry him, bear his babies, and show up at her office now and then for DADDY! to pat her approvingly in the head.
But the author is contracted to write a full-length story, so we have the Pierce and Sinclair families feuding because DADDY! and Owen’s father don’t like one another anymore. The reason is revealed only late in the story, and will absolutely shock the two readers out there who have no clue whatsoever how romance novels patterned after Romeo & Juliet tend to be. Owen wants to defy the odds to finally be with Maggie, whom he’d always had a crush on, and with him, Maggie finally manages to replace DADDY! in her thoughts with OWEN! and OH! OH! OH! now and then. The chemistry is good, the sexual tension is nice, and, of course, we all know that even if DADDY! finally succeeds in ruining everything and bankrupting Maggie in the process, our heroine will always be spared from having to pull a Fantine for DADDY!’s sake by Owen’s bags and bags of money.
The drama is in the form of something Owen stupidly said to his father in order to justify his spending time with Maggie (he’s still a bit of a Daddy’s boy like that) coming back to bite him in the ass and make Maggie doubt his sincerity. This one is infuriating because, up to that point, we have a heroine who is determined to fall over the cliff and lose everything she has for an unappreciative father. As she tells Owen, she never lets that man know of her financial problems because she herself chooses not to dwell on them, pretending instead that all is rosy and sweet. Owen, therefore, is basically saving this heroine in denial from her own mess by falling for her, giving her some confidence to do things, and also doing his share of helping to sort out Maggie’s personal and financial messes. And how does she repay him? She turns on him the moment there is a bump on the road.
Now, I don’t blame her. Owen really looks bad at that moment. But I can’t help it, I’m already so irritated by the heroine’s self-destructive stupidity that seeing her acting like she doesn’t need anything from him makes my patience snap. She gets rewarded in the end anyway, her father doesn’t get pushed down the stairs like he deserves to be, and frankly, the family feud drama makes both Owen and Maggie – especially Maggie, oh my god – look foolish.
Anyway, like I’ve said, there is nothing wrong with One Summer Night if you can stand this kind of heroine in this kind of story. If I’m that kind of reader, this one would hover between three and four oogies. But because Maggie makes me want to kick some sense into her, and those fathers need to be shipped off to some deserted island, I can only bring myself to give this one two oogies.