Reviewed: March 28, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: N/A ~ Non-Series / Stand Alone
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 384 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Sourcebooks Casablanca publisher Sourcebooks via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
Violet McGinn has a...complicated relationship with her mother, a self-proclaimed psychic who calls herself Moonbeam and gives psychic readings out of her shop in Portland, Oregon. And yes, that's a large reason why Violet is an accountant. In Portland, Maine. About as far away as she could get from her loopy mother in both career and location. Violet doesn't believe in psychics. She believes in statistics. She believes in facts. She believes in all things normal.
Be that as it may, when her mother suffers a serious injury after a fall and ends up in the hospital, Violet returns to Oregon to help her. She agrees, very reluctantly, to keep the store open and take on her mother's clients so Moonbeam will consent to having traditional surgery. Acting as a psychic makes Violet very uncomfortable given her absolute lack of belief, but there is one perk to the job. The man who runs the strip club next to Moonbeam's shop. It's a pity he's gay, because he's definitely a very big perk.
He owns a bar, but convincing people of that has been hit and miss since Drew Watson started featuring male strippers two nights a week. People keep calling it a strip club. People like the daughter of the crazy lady who runs the woo-woo shop next door. She sure is pretty, though. And her eyes, an unbelievable color that matches her name, do something to him in all the best places. Flirting with her is as natural as breathing and twice as fun. Almost as much fun as proving to her that he is decidedly not gay.
They're perfect for each other, except for one tiny problem. Running a strip club...er...bar is not exactly the definition of normal. In fact, Drew is wonderfully, fantastically, sexily not normal. Violet can't deny the deep attraction she feels for the man, but a childhood being raised by Moonbeam makes her more than yearn for normal - she needs it like air.
Which is probably why she freaks so bad when she starts to notice a peculiar connection between the music she heard Drew playing in his bar...and the accurate fortunes she is "psychically" providing to her mother's clients. And caring for Drew on top of the terrifying possibility she's starting to contemplate, is just way too far outside the realm of normal for her.
Ah, brain candy. I do love it so. You know the sort, the light, fluffy reads that don't take themselves too seriously but offer up a couple of fun characters, some entertaining banter, a healthy dose of sexual sizzle, and a guaranteed Happily Ever After without too much angst between the beginning and the end. Sure, a steady diet of brain candy might be a bit much, but I've always enjoyed delectable snack or a sweet-as-sin dessert between weightier reads as sort of a mental palate cleanser, and Fenske's Believe It or Not fit the bill nicely.
Not only are Violet and Drew perfectly enjoyable characters, but the storyline was breezy and fresh, and the woo-woo bits were kept subtle and inconclusive in a rather brilliant manner that kept this little gem from tripping over into any sort of paranormal or supernatural realm. Instead, it stayed more a character-driven tale of two people who think they want very different things and how they come together despite that silliness.
Violet thinks she's normal (she's not) and craves a steady, normal guy with a steady, normal job (snore). Drew thinks Violet is too much like his ex-wife (ha!) and believes the only commitment he wants is bringing a different date to the same restaurant every Monday night (which would be a bit more convincing if he could remember the name of the girl he's with on the first Monday after meeting Violet). And of course neither Violet nor Drew can keep their thoughts, eyes, or mouths off each other. Poor deluded fools.
It's so much fun watching them struggle to fight their attraction and follow the paths to what they think they want!
Besides that, there are a couple of other plot threads going on to keep things interesting. Nothing too strenuous, but it adds some depth to the story. Secondary characters add some fun, but they don't have much depth or presence beyond being foils for the romance. I don't mind that, especially as I didn't particularly care for the fanatical hippie-dippy Moonbeam and her pot-smoking, incense-burning, holistic-healing-loving friends.
There was a moment late in the book where Violet made a decision and did something that I found questionable - at best - and I was worried that the book was taking a more serious turn. I wasn't happy with her actions, but I have to admit, the conflict was relatively quickly resolved and done with a minimum of angst.
This book started as a light, fun read and despite that one blip, it mostly stayed that way. I can't say it's the most compelling or memorable book I've ever read - but it's not meant to be. It's meant to be funny, sexy, and light. It's brain candy...and there's nothing wrong with that at all. I recommend it to readers who need to satisfy their mental sweet tooth.
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