Not Planning On You
by Syndey Landon, contemporary (2013, reissue)
Signet, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-451-41962-0
Sydney Landon's Not Planning On You is a pretty decent standalone story, although the main characters first met and got creepy in the previous book Weekends Required. Suzy Denton, our heroine, was portrayed as the outgoing party-loving BFF of the heroine of that book. Because we romance readers can't have slutty darlings as romance heroines, however, here Ms Landon quickly does a bait and switch. Rejoice, people, Suzy isn't a promiscuous tart after all, she just acts like one!
She might talk a good game, but in reality, she wasn't that experienced in matters of the opposite sex. She'd been with Jeff for so long that she'd never really dated anyone else. She'd only slept with one man in her life, and she'd been engaged to the scumbag.
Poor Suzy, Jeff cheated on her and now, she will never love again. Her mother gave her the middle finger, and now she will never trust her heart with anyone else. And so forth, she goes. Luckily for her, billionaire Grayson Merimon is not taking no for an answer. He will loom, stalk, and wear her down so that she will put out to him. He knows she wants it bad, after all.
You may say that Suzy is trading up by exchanging one cheating scumbag for a billionaire. Normally, I would agree, but in this case, Gray is ultra creepy. He speaks to Suzy as if she's very stupid and needs to be told everything at least five times, laced with extra condescension for good measure. Suzy doesn't like to be called "Suzana", telling him that her mother, whom she isn't fond of, called her that, so naturally he continues to call her "Suzana". Despite the fact that she works for him, he tells his buddies in management that he intends to sleep with her. Can you imagine how horrible it would be for Suzy to remain working there if she didn't want to sleep with Gray? All her superiors take for granted that she would put out to Gray sooner or later. And such behavior on Gray's part is... what? Romantic?
As for the plot, well, Suzy pretty quickly puts out to Gray, so the author decides to spice up the story by having Gray's nasty ex causing trouble and worsening Suzy's trust issues. Actually, this nasty ex won't be so successful if Gray hadn't been so dumb as to let her stay in his place. Then again, Gray never shows any sign that he respects Suzy even a little, so I am not surprised one bit that he doesn't imagine that Suzy will have problems with him letting his ex stay at his place. He's only a catch because the author insists that he is. In any other circumstances, Nick is the worst embodiment of stalker behavior, sexual harassment, and control freak antics.
Also, the author just loves to make every character not named Grayson Merimon sound like an immature teenager. Take this charming scene of a secondary character accusing her of masturbating in the bedroom because she takes too long to answer his call.
"Yoooo-hoooo, Suzy. helloooo. I've been calling and calling you. You're not barbecuing alone in there, are you?"
Suzy jumped at the sound of Nick's voice on the other side of the door. With a roll of her eyes, Suzy yelled back through the door, "What're you talking about, barbecuing alone?"
"You know, the two-finger twirl, the solo mambo, the five-finger shuffle."
Suzy jerked open the door and clapped her hand over his mouth. "Oh, geez, please stop. You're such a pervert. If I was doing any of the above, which I wasn't, you would be the last to know."
Nick threw an arm over her shoulders and said, "We're all family here, babe, no need to be embarrassed."
What adults speak like that? And you know what's the best part, Nick is Gray's brother, and he has a thing for Suzy's little sister. So, to have him "tease" Suzy like that is too creepy for me. But that's nowhere as cringe-inducing as the scene where Nick overhears his brother and Suzy having noisy sex and Gray practically gives Nick a high five in response. What happened to boundaries? Then again, as I've mentioned, Gray doesn't even respect Suzy's wish not to be called "Suzana". It's not surprising that he has no problems letting everyone know that he's just shagged Suzy bandy-legged without even considering her feelings on the matter.
Of course, Suzy has no problems with his antics, as the author genuinely believes that her hero and those creepy guys he consorts with are sexy alpha males who have captured my imagination by behaving like join-the-dots stereotypical imbecile assholes.
I actually thought, while reading Weekends Required, that the author showed some promise, but here, she's out of control. Horribly contrived internal conflicts powered by idiot male behavior and non-stop stupid misunderstanding, characters that speak in horribly stilted ways in misguided attempts to sound hip and witty, and amateurish narrative all combine to give this book that "everything horrible you hear about self-published duds is true" feeling. There are at least three things on every page that make me cringe and feel vaguely embarrassed, although I don't know who I am more embarrassed for - the author, for trying so hard only to fail, or myself, for actually reading this thing.
Let's just say that it's pretty obvious that Signet bought this book not because of its quality, but because its train wreck factor reels in enough readers to make the bigwigs see dollar signs in bright shiny colors. I don't blame them, and I certainly don't blame the author for being able to make lots of money selling turd like this book, but dang it, I have the right to blame those people for making this book such a horrific pain in the rear end read. Making lots of money is fine, but I draw the line at me being collateral damage in these folks' beautiful pursuit of the almighty dollar.
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