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Playing for Keeps by R.L. Mathewson

Reblogged from Moonlight Reader:
Playing for Keeps (Neighbor from Hell #1) - R.L. Mathewson

This is an amazon.com review from February 22, 2012. I am in the process of migrating reviews from amazon and goodreads to booklikes. The amazon reviews have to come over one at a time.


I am doing this because I have lost faith in the amazon/goodreads review systems, and am not willing to continue to provide content to the GRAmazon beast. As I move them, I will be deleting them from amazon's website. I very much enjoyed being one of amazon's top ten thousand reviewers, but the known prevalence of fake reviews on amazon, and their failure to do anything about those reviews has caused me to rethink my participation in the amazon reviewer world. 



I know that I'm in the minority here, but wanted to offer an opposing opinion to all of the four and five star reviews that other people have posted for this book.


I'm not going to provide a plot summary because the plot summary for the book does a pretty good job of explaining the general story. I want to spend my review real estate explaining why this book really didn't work for me, in the hopes of providing potential purchasers with information that will be helpful in deciding whether or not to read this book.


As you can see, I'm not giving this book 1 or even 2 stars. Generally, I felt like the book was fairly well-written and probably succeeded in terms of what the author intended to do. I didn't see any major issues with the writing or the formatting. There were some minor issues related to homonyms/ proofreading (I specifically remember band instead of banned, although that's the only one I remember right now) but they didn't detract so greatly from my enjoyment that I would give the book a poor review based on that alone.


So, why didn't it work for me, especially since I have enjoyed many books enjoyed by some of the other reviewers who really liked this book? I think it really boils down to the characters. I felt like the author was so caught up in making the situations funny and the characters over-the-top that I just didn't believe in any of it. I was looking for a book about characters that could convince me that their romance was real. I didn't find that here. There was so much cliche in every single character.


Let me provide an example in Haley's dad. We've got our heroine, who is a high school teacher with a college degree. She is 24. She owns her own home. She is bright, and intelligent and really self-sufficient. And her dad is such a cliche of the emotionally distant wealthy guy that he doesn't have any idea when her birthday is, that he doesn't know how old she is, and he thinks she runs a day care, which is beneath her and beneath her family background. This just didn't work for me. None of Haley's family, save her grandmother, had any redeeming qualities at all. It doesn't ring true. With the possible exception of Bernie Madoff, human beings are not so completely bereft of positive qualities.


More importantly, though, I think that this book was intended to be a romantic comedy. There were parts of it that I found funny, but overall, I really didn't like the relationship between Jason and Haley. I didn't see Jason as a jealous, loving man who is just too emotionally unaware to realize that he has fallen in love. I saw him as an immature, petulant brat who only wanted a toy until he broke it. In real life, he deserves to have someone key his car (not that I'm advocating vandalism). The scene of the book that happened by the pool broke my heart, and nothing that happened after that redeemed it for me. I liked Haley, and I wanted her to find someone who loved her and valued her, since there didn't seem to be a single person in her life who saw her as a competent, loveable person,including her so-called friends. I just didn't think that Jason was that person.


So, ultimately, this book didn't work for me. The over-the-top characterizations and situations left me empty. I can see how the book might work for a different reader, who is looking for something light and frothy, and doesn't take it too seriously. I was expecting something different, & I think I did take it too seriously. It just wasn't my cup of tea.