Penelope Luciano, a virginal wallflower who lives the life of a hermit, has always been overlooked. But everything changes when she trades her quiet night with a book for a rare night out with her friends.
Jack Goodman, a confident skirt chaser, has always been a womanizer. But everything changes when he meets clumsy Penelope, and their first kiss turns into a night of passion.
When Penelope sneaks out the morning after, neither one expects to see each other again until they are thrown together in unexpected circumstances.
When pride and self-doubt get in the way, it’s up to both the blogger and the hunk to attain their equal footing and find the strength to chase what they really want.
I feel like every romance reader should read this book. You’ll find it fun and endearing, and I enjoyed the mental fantasy that went with a handsome, model-type of fellow falling for one of us mere mortals. **insert smiley face here as I’m only being humorous here**
This is the debut novel from Jane Matisse and I have to applaud her choice for her first story. The reason I say that is because this book is light, but I was still able to become emotionally attached to the characters, especially Penelope.
My blog is still fairly new, and so I’ve read a fair number of debut authors and one thing I see frequently is too many characters introduces too fast. Jane Matisse manages to avert this by placing her new characters in strategically, while still keeping the focus on Jack and Penelope.
So we already know that Penelope and Jack have a one-night- stand. But they reconnect unexpectedly when Celeste, Penelope’s sister, is getting married and has been friends with Jack since college on the east coast. One thing that did strike me odd was that Celeste asked Jack, whom she calls Jackie, to be her maid-of-honor. I know the necessity of this request, in terms of the story, but it still kept striking me as sort of odd. Yes, I know we live in a different type of world, but I think that I never really saw Celeste and Jack have the friendship shown in the book that would have warranted that. And Celeste seemed to have a lot of friends whom she could have asked. So like I said, I understood why the author made it that way, but it still struck me a bit odd.
When Penelope hears about Jackie, she’s obviously somewhat hurt, but assumes Jackie is a girl. Then they meet, for the second time. From there, the fun really begins. Penelope isn’t thin. Now she’s not obese either. I would say her size, based on the book, is average. But this story is set in California and after having a one-night-stand with someone who normally dates tall, thin, model types, you can certainly understand where Penelope assumes Jack has no interest in her at all.
But Jack actually can’t stop thinking about Penelope and even he is somewhat confused by it. He realizes that she isn’t his normal type, but he can’t stay away. I really appreciated that Jack and Penelope can have actual conversations. The reality is that as Jack gets to know Penelope more and more, he sees her physical beauty more and more.
Another facet that sort of confused me was Celeste, in general. She’s crucial to the story but she is so far in her own world, that I sort of ended up hating her. When the book starts, she’s berating Penelope for not going out more. Then as the wedding planning continues, she sort of thinks for Penelope, instead of actually talking to her. Even Celeste’s soon-to-be husband realizes that something is brewing between Jack and Penelope, but Celeste is in a bubble. It never struck me as the bridezilla bubble, it just seemed like she was completely self-absorbed and selfish.
For myself, I really related to Penelope. I felt like the author possibly climbed inside my mind with the way Penelope sees herself. There is a point in the book where Penelope really lets Jack have a piece of her mind. Even though I was sad to see discord between them, I was really happy that she got it off her chest, because Jack needed to hear it. Later, we see a point where Penelope’s mother is talking about her (Penelope) weight and how she needs to lose weight and fix herself up so can find a man like Celeste has. Jack actually takes the chance and steps up to defend her.
I felt this was a really crucial moment in the story. The reason being is that women, whether its mothers, grandmothers, daughters, friends, etc, want to admit, we criticize each other all the time; sometimes not even knowing we’re doing it. Its done under the guise of “helping” or “tough love”. I knew exactly how Penelope was feeling in that moment and to see Jack come to her rescue in really the best way he can was fantastic.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. As I sat down to write my review, I was surprised when I realized that this was the author’s debut. Yes, there were parts that struck me a bit off, but at the same time, I was able to see why those parts were there. I’m really excited to see what Jane Matisse does next, because I truly think her work will continue to grow and advance and become more addicting that I already found it to be.
Here’s an excerpt:
Penelope groaned. They’d slept together again. Why did she insist on torturing herself? Although she was a teeny bit disappointed she couldn’t remember any of it.
Jack laughed at her and reached out to take her hand. “I’m just teasing. Nothing happened between us. You just snored. A lot. If getting a hangover doesn’t stop you from getting drunk again, then just keep in mind if you plan to go home with a guy, don’t drink yourself into a stupor beforehand. I thought a bear had sneaked into my apartment.” He laughed, chucking her chin and turning to the whistling kettle on the stove.
Penelope couldn’t stop the heat from taking over. She could just imagine the tomato color her face was sporting. “Does that mean you didn’t take me out of my clothes?” she managed to ask.
“I was surprised you were actually balanced enough to slide that little number off, especially with those fuck-me heels.” His eyes twinkled from above his mug of coffee.
Penelope wasn’t having any of it. “Ugh, stop. Just stop it. Be serious for once, please. No more of these double meanings and sexual innuendos. They’re getting a little annoying and the only thing I want to do right now is find my dress and get home.”
Jack just looked back at her, a serious expression on his face. “All right, truce. I’ll shut up for now. Deal?”