Nothing Personal
by Jaci Burton, contemporary (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 1-59998-170-X


Jaci Burton's Nothing Personal is a story akin to your friendly typical Harlequin Blaze novel, complete with some very familiar plot devices that had been in vogue but never making any sense since 1988.

Let's see. We have a super rich millionaire hero, Ryan McKay who, thanks to that Dead Grandfather's Will business, has to marry and impregnate a woman fast if our CEO of McKay Corporation wants to hold on to the company and his lifestyle. He has this quiet and efficient secretary, Faith Lewis, who comes ready with a contrived kind of virginity one can find only in stories of this sort. I'm talking about "contrived" because why on earth will a woman who has waited for the right guy for all this while happily give it up to her boss in a sham marriage just because he's cute?

When his designated brood mare walks out on him when they are this close to the wedding day, Ryan has to choice but to ask Faith to endure his billions and his mighty virility. Faith, that woman who's been in love with him since forever, agrees without even negotiating for a prenuptial agreement. Since the will actually insists that Ryan and his brood mare make babies the "natural" way instead of resorting to artificial methods, that means Ryan and Faith have to get busy on the wedding night itself. How will they prove that they shagged, you ask? According to this story, Ryan's cousin James and his entourage will be around to make sure that the two newlyweds sleep in the same room and all.

Excuse me, have you seen my sense of disbelief? I tried suspending it around page ten but I think I overdid it and now it is so high up that I can't see where it is anymore.

To be fair to Ms Burton, she makes it clear that the premise is ridiculous and Ryan finds the whole Will thing ridiculous and even distasteful. But I don't know how to explain Faith, who commits to marrying Ryan and signing away the rights to the child they will have because she thinks he's hot and she's confident that it's okay that she's around to love that child if he doesn't. What kind of reasoning is that? Ms Burton says that Faith is pathetic since her entire life revolves around Ryan and her job as his PA. I disagree. Faith isn't pathetic, she needs psychiatric help.

Ryan is a familiar hero - he's from an unhappy childhood because his late grandfather was a manipulative ass and his parents hated each other so he will not fall in love with a woman - ever! - because that only means she can hurt him. Our brave and precious man is too much of a chicken to get hurt, that poor baby. Faith is an emotional mess, crying and generally behaving like a typical twit who needs taking care of as much as she often bends over backwards to please Ryan. There are some familiar secondary characters who will take Faith under their wing and scold Ryan for not humoring poor Faith more often.

Nothing Personal has such an antiquated plot that it is one of those things that are very hard to present in a sensible light no matter how much self-awareness the author has about her plot. Such a plot makes Faith come off as demented to go that far to please a man she has this creepy infatuation on and when Ryan behaves like a jerk towards her because he's such a self-absorbed big boy that way, his behavior becomes ten times worse than it actually is because he's behaving that way to Faith. With Faith's state of intelligence and all, Ryan bullying her is like Ryan kicking a baby black and blue over a lollypop.

The story is very easy to read and I have this strong suspicion that my issues with this story lie with the plot rather than the author's style. Nothing Personal is really too much of a Harlequin Blaze kind of "Only in romance novels, I tell you!" thing for me. I'm off to check out the author's other books, but in the meantime, I'd suggest that you give this one a look only if you enjoy stories with premises like this one or, if not, you believe you can suspend your disbelief better than I can.

Rating: 60


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