I should start this review by saying that I’m a huge fan of Rachel Gibson and I was anxiously anticipating this book. I should continue this review by saying how disappointed I was after reading it. This book didn’t work for me at all; I can honestly say that the only redeeming quality about it was the writing style.
Any Man of Mine is book six in the series about the fictional hockey team the Seattle Chinooks but stands alone quite well so you can read this one first.
The book's leads are Sam and Autumn. About six years ago they met in Vegas. 72 hours latter Autumn finds herself left alone in the hotel room after her wedding night (that’s right, they got married). It turns out that Sam, who apparently was drunk the whole time, has realized his mistake and has fled the crime scene. Days later Sam has files for divorce while Autumn finds out she is pregnant. After the birth of the boy, and after the paternity test results come back positive, Sam agrees to take care of him financially, but he is pretty much absent from the boy’s life. Flash forward five years later and Autumn and Sam meet again. This time they try to be more civilized to each other for their son’s sake. Here is where the book begins and you probably can guess what comes next.
This book had an interesting plot, a very crappy hero trying to clean up his act and be a good father. I like books where the characters have layers and are not particularly good or even likeable, but to be honest this book took it too far. Sam is so unlikeable and behaves like such a jerk, that the only thing I could think while reading the book was that he had a lot of hoops to jump in order to redeem himself. It became apparent that those hoops would never come, and why would they? The heroine was an idiot; she forgave him almost magically fast. Sam behaved like a douche the whole book and the only thing that was different by the end was that he now was somewhat present in his son’s life, and he wasn’t sleeping around. I can quote tons of examples for you to get an idea of what a piece of work this guy was, but I’ll just use this conversation they have after he arrives late to drop their son at Autumn’s:
“You said you’d have him here at noon.”
“I said ish.”
“I said noon-ish.”
The tick in her eye moved to the center of her forehead.
“What is that? Some sort of special Sam time? While the rest of the world lives and operates in time zones, you’re special and operate in ish?”
He smiled like he thought she was funny. “I wanted to spend a little more time with him, Autumn. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend a little time with my son.”
He made it sound so reasonable. “You’re an hour and a half late. I thought something might have happened.”
“Sorry you were worried.”
That wasn’t good enough. Besides, she didn’t believe him. He threw the word around, but he didn’t mean it. Sam was never sorry about anything. “When you didn’t show up, I called.”
He nodded. “I forgot my phone at home. When we got back, I saw that you’d phoned.”
“What? You didn’t think to return my call? To let me know Conner was okay?”
He folded his big arms over his equally big chest.
“It occurred to me, but by the way you blew up the phone with all your calls, I knew you’d chew my ass. Just like you’re dying to do right now. And to tell you the truth, I’m never going to purposely call anyone who’s dying to chew my ass.”
She took a deep breath and glanced up at the big window and Conner’s little face glued to the glass.
Holding on to her control by a thread, she calmly said,
“You’re immature and irresponsible.”
“Well, sweetheart, I’ve never said I wasn’t irresponsible. But you’re too controlling.”
“He’s my son.”
“He’s my son, too.”
“He’s your son when it’s convenient for you.”
“Well, it was convenient today. Get over it.”
Do I need to say more? Because the only reason I didn’t stop reading right there was because I still had hope that Ms. Gibson would manage to redeem Sam.
I think it was good for Sam to realize that he was hurting his son, and I get that he was immature when he had him. I can even believe that he loved the boy, I just think that he was a self-centered bastard who loved himself more. He had a crappy father, he knew how was like to have an absent parent and to be disappointed and brokenhearted. Then why was he doing the same exact thing to his own son?
Now, don’t get me wrong, the hero wasn’t the only one who ruined the book for me, the heroine was responsible for that too. Here we have a woman who goes to Vegas, gets married two days after meeting a guy, falls in love, or thinks she falls in love, then gets dumped, gets slapped with a divorce order, finds out she’s pregnant, gets slapped with a paternity test, the father only shows up after the baby is born, he then proceeds to broke promise after promise he made to the kid, and what does she do? Nothing. She doesn’t get on with her life; she says she hates him passionately, but can’t move on! Once the guy is back claiming to be a better person, she just takes him back? Like that? We are talking about the same guy whose own coworkers, the guys who are his family, his friends, don’t know he has a son! Come on, they deserve each other! This is the first time I read a romance novel where I’m absolutely positive that the leads won’t stay together happily ever after. I just hope their son will grow up to be a happy and well-adjusted man, but with parents like those I seriously doubt it.
Let me tell you how this book should have ended: Sam steps up to the plate and becomes a good dad, but he doesn’t get together with Autumn again. She finds someone different, and Sam matures more in time as a consequence of his newfound responsibility, and then he finds a woman he can love and respect and be happy with. The book ends with both leads finding their HEA away from each other. Sadly that ending is only in my head.
What really happens is that Sam becomes a good dad but keeps on being unlikeable, which is fair enough I guess, and Autumn remarries him. By the end of the book I was more annoyed at her than at him.
I’m really glad this is not the first time I read something by Rachel Gibson, because otherwise it would have been my last. I really don’t know what happened because I have enjoyed all of her books and she is on my auto-buy list. I am going to forget about this book and hope the next one is better.
I won’t recommend this book to you, I will recommend Ms. Gibson's books though. If you are a fan of sport player heroes she is the one for you, just skip this one, because there is not even any hockey in it.
Review by Brie
What happens in Vegas . . . doesn't always stay there.
Autumn Haven's Las Vegas "to-do" list said to catch a show and play the slots—not wake up married to a sexy jerk like Sam LeClaire. The first moment she saw him eyeing her like a luscious piece of the dessert buffet, her usually responsible self told her to run. And she did—right into the wildest fantasy weekend of her life. But Monday morning jolted her back to reality, and before she could say "pass the coffee," Sam was gone.
Now a successful wedding planner, Autumn hasn't clapped eyes on the heartbreaking hockey superstar for over two years . . . until she organizes his teammate's "Special Day," where Sam makes a big play to pick up where he left off! But she has vowed any man of hers plays for keeps. Is Sam the man for her or does she banish him to the sin bin forever?
Avon. April 26, 2011.