Avon Impulse, $4.99, ISBN 978-0-06-266251-4
Contemporary Romance, 2018
Yes, people, the Virgin Territory is part of hero Patrick “Patch” Donnelly’s real estate. Don’t get too excited, though. Why is an NHL player, a hot one to boot, manages to resist all those groupies throwing themselves at him? Is it because of religious beliefs? Maybe he likes boys but is afraid of what it’d do to his career should he gets caught sampling the chocolate jar? Or maybe he’s just asexual and would prefer a cuddle instead?
No, it’s because he wants his sexy times to be meaningful, but at the same time, he’s terrified of feeling too much for anyone, so… sigh. This is like me saying that I like chocolates but I’m afraid of being too attached to them so I spend my time moping about how sad that chocolates and my lips never shall meet. I doubt anyone will feel sorry for me or think me awesome for being in such a situation, and I have a similar indifference to Patch’s lack of naughty moments in his life. The whole thing feels like a gimmick, nothing more. Our hero also spends a lot of time moping about how everything and anything is his fault and hence, he’s always blue – not just in his privates, he’s blue all over, boo hoo hoo.
As for the heroine Margot Kowalski, she’s so determined to show off how Feisty! Sassy! Snappy! she is that she is always on. Everything and every situation is an excuse to talk like she’s trying too hard to get likes and retweets on Twitter, constantly on even if she ends up contradicting herself. Early on in this story, the author has Margot spending pages judging the looks and talking styles of the people around her, mock their sex lives, proclaim that she will never sleep with ginger-haired men, and then… because she is so woke, stridently butts into the conversations of the young ladies whom she’d judged as dumb, wanting, and pathetic to scold them for slut shaming. Yes, she’s that kind of annoying heroine whom I usually cheer on to get laid all day because then she’d be too preoccupied to talk.
Oh, and she needs money because she wants to open her own yoga studio. Why am I not surprised that she’s not good at making money, although the author wants me to think of this as some kind of charming klutziness.
Patch is ordered by his coach to go for yoga classes in order to get back his focus on goalkeeping duties, I’m sure you can guess what happens next.
The problem with Virgin Territory is that the heroine is constantly on, on, on – she tries way too hard to be feisty and sassy only to serve up full-time cringe instead, while the hero is just a big mopey, self-pitying big slab of beef that tends to grasp at straws to keep being an Eeyore. Worse, the author then pads in all kinds of external drama instead of focusing on the romance. All this drama takes up much real estate in an already short story, and there is no way the author can treat all the external drama properly. As a result, nothing feels even halfway developed. Maybe if the author had another 200 pages, perhaps, but for a short story of this length, whatever she has served here just doesn’t work.