Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Trouble With Valentine's Day by Rachel Gibson *****

I know I've done more re-reads of this books since 2008, but for my own Valentine to myself, I stayed in bed and read this book today. Pure indulgence and lots of fun!

My original review from June 19, 2008:

I am so relieved to say I loved this book! This is my second Rachel Gibson book, the first being the AAR Top 100 See Jane Score. I liked See Jane Score ok, but not that much and definitely not "Top 100". I felt like it was a Susan Andersen-wannabe without the sass and smarts. The Trouble With Valentine's Day has sass and smarts to burn - and it's damn funny too!

Heroine Kate has just left her job and her life in Las Vegas to move in temporarily with her grandfather Stanley in Gospel, Idaho. Her grandmother died 2 years ago, and Stanley has been depressed. He's running the small town grocery he and Melba ran for decades, and it seemed a good opportunity for Kate to help out. Well, she's helping herself out too - after a string of bad relationships and a really bad experience on the job, she's feeling a little rudderless. She had to stop for the night at a ski resort on the way because of the weather. It's Valentine's Day, she's alone at the bar feeling a little blue and a little in her cups when a good looking guy sits next to her and orders a beer.

What the heck. She's always fantasized about picking up a hunky guy in a bar - what could it hurt? She'll never see him again anyway. She makes her move.

Rob is on a ski trip with buddies, and left the slopes early because of his knee. Rob's a former Seattle Chinooks hockey player who had an accident - but not on the ice. He was married, has a 2 year old daughter, and, well, he sorta played around too. On an out of town trip, he picked up a rink bunny who turned out to be psycho - and she hunted him down and shot him. He almost died and it ruined his knee, his hockey career and his marriage. To recuperate from his illness and get out of Seattle, he moves to Gospel, Idaho, where his mother lives. She's a nurse and helps him with his physical therapy. And while he's there, he vows never to pick up strange women for sex again.

He goes into the bar at the resort, sits next to a good looking woman and orders a beer. And wouldn't you know it, she propositions him. WTF? He tells her flat out he doesn't sleep with women he meets in bars and leaves as quickly as possible.

Well, Kate is mortified - crushed - horrified - embarrassed. But, she figures she'll never see him again anyway - that is, until she's working in Stanley's store one day, and he calls her over to meet the guy who runs the sporting goods store across the street - Rob.

Rob plays it cool and pretends they haven't met - and she is confused but relieved. OK, maybe it was dark in the bar or he was drunker than even she was.

Gentlemen, start your engines because now we have the makings of 2 people trying to avoid the inevitable: the chemistry of love! Kate is outspoken and liberal in a small town where it takes decades to be considered a native, and gets tongues wagging with her talk and her attempts to change the little grocery. She's also wary of the feelings she has - she knows she's always drawn to the Bad Boy/Mr Wrong type, and resists as much as humanly possible.

Rob is also attracted to her, but has the additional complications of his ex-wife, always hinting at reconciliation, and his daughter. As well as that issue of not sleeping with women who might turn out to be psychos. In fact, he hasn't dated any woman that anyone in town knows of, which starts some speculation about his sexual preferences, which turns into a rumor that he's gay - inadvertently started by Kate!

It's funny and touching too - I really felt Kate's insecurities and as well as her need to stand on her own two feet. Rob feeds her insecurities too, with his conflicting messages - he makes it clear she turns him on and then he makes it doubly clear he has no intention of acting on it. While I understood his point of view, I felt Kate's reaction to his messages. I hurt with her.

Eventually, with many ups and downs, they manage to come to a truce of sorts, which mainly means now they can act on their desires. But Rob is no closer to forging a true relationship with Kate - he's pretending they have a Friends With Benefits type thing going on. Once that topic is brought up, in front of the ex-wife who makes a surprise visit, Kate is out the door, broken hearted and ready to flee. This is the part where I felt the most like I was being dragged over rocks, along with Kate's heart. There's a secondary romance in the book - Rob's mother and Kate's grandfather - which forces them together again, and forces Rob's hand as well. Come on Rob, it's time to put up or shut up!!

I found Gibson's writing in this book wonderful and touching and funny and true. 5 stars.

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