Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Book Review: "The Proposal" by Jasmine Guillory

Freelance writer Nikole Paterson is spending a beautiful weekend day at a Dodgers game with Fisher, the guy she has been dating for the past few months, and a bunch of his friends.

"She didn't have anything against baseball, exactly. It was just that she'd rather be spending this beautiful spring day at home with her laptop and a glass of bourbon on the rocks than outside at a baseball stadium with a warm beer. But when the hot dude you were sleeping with wanted to go to a Dodgers game for his birthday, you sucked it up and went along with him and his bros."

The game takes an unexpected turn when Fisher surprises her with a marriage proposal on the Jumbotron, in front of the entire stadium. It isn't fake surprise with which Nik reacts to this proposal—it's utter disbelief. (Plus he spelled her first name wrong.) She and Fisher haven't even said they love each other (and she doesn't love him), much less discuss marriage. But there Fisher is, on one knee in the middle of the stadium, holding a princess ring. She has no choice but to turn him down, disappointing the entire crowd, not to mention raising the ire of Fisher and his bros.

Of course, she wants to crawl into a hole and hide, but there she is, still in her seat as the game goes on. When the camera crew starts to descend upon her, a guy watching the action from a few rows up takes pity on her, and he and his sister extricate Nik from the imminent media feeding frenzy, and spirit her out of the stadium to the relative safety of her best friends.

It turns out Carlos is a pediatrician—and a damned sexy one on top of that, not that Nik noticed. (Well, that much.) But Carlos also spends a lot of his life protecting and caring for his widowed mother, his sister, and the other women in his family, so the rescue role comes easy for him. However, Nikole's beauty isn't lost on him, but he knows better than to let on that he's even remotely attracted to her.

"If she had to pick a strange man to rescue her, at least it was one who was outraged by the right things."

In the days and weeks following the proposal fiasco, Nik finds herself leaning on Carlos more and more, and she can't get him out of her head. Her friends keep encouraging her to have a rebound romance with the sexy doctor, but she isn't sure she needs the complications. For his part, Carlos can't stop thinking of Nik either, and isn't sure exactly what she wants from him—but he knows what he'd like from her.

When the sparks between them finally ignite, they agree that all either of them wants is something casual. They enjoy each other's company, great food, and pretty hot sex. Beyond that, they have an easy, comforting companionship, and each provides the other with the support and encouragement they need. It's the perfect situation—nothing serious, just fun and lots of terrific sex.

You can probably guess how the rest of the book will unfold, and you'd probably be mostly right. But even predicting what will happen (and I wasn't 100 percent right, as I expected a little more melodrama) didn't take away from the appeal of The Proposal. As she did with her first book, The Wedding Date (see my review), Jasmine Guillory hooked me from the very first page. Her characters may have some flaws, but they're just so charming, so much fun, the kind of people I'd probably hate in real life but inexplicably love reading about.

This year has brought many pleasant literary surprises, and chief among them is how much I've come to like so-called "chick lit," or women's fiction. These books have been the perfect foil after too many emotionally laden or intellectually exhausting books, and they've helped bring balance after I start looking at everyone suspiciously because I've read too many thrillers and crime novels at once.

I find the term "chick lit" a bit denigrating, as if the authors writing in this genre don't deserve the same respect as writers of more general fiction. The fact is, much like the young adult genre, there are some terrific, talented writers out there worthy of notice and renown. This year, I've become a huge fan of writers like Guillory, Christina Lauren, and Taylor Jenkins Reid.

I've said on more than one occasion (more like 100 occasions) that I'm a gigantic sap. I'm so glad there are books like The Proposal which are fun reads that also appeal to the sappy part of me. Now I have to wait until July 2019 for Guillory's next book!

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