Better For Us
by Vanessa Miller, contemporary (2013)
KImani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86291-7


Reading this story and looking at the title, I can only ask, "Better for whom?" Not me, certainly. This is a secret baby story, or rather, secret precious brat, since the brat in question is eight and determined to make my skin crawl to the nearest lawyer and petition for a divorce from the rest of my body.

Eight years ago, Ryla Evans and Noel Carter swapped promises of forever as well as body fluids, but depending on whom you ask, the other person turned out to be a lying, cheating scumbag and the relationship was OVER. Naturally, Ryla popped out a brat but didn't tell him because this is what romance heroines do for fun. Today, Noel was a former NBA star who is running for a seat in the congress and Ryla stumbles upon him one fine evening and let him know that he's the father of her brat. Meanwhile, he needs a wife of convenience so he may as well make her join him in a fake-engagement while accusing her of all kinds of things people usually reserve for slatterns and harlots of the highest order. I guess it's love, though, because he's hot and it's not like she has any other guy to choose from.

This is a double bonanza of big misunderstanding and secret baby clichés layered by inability to communicate like adults, which explains why this is a full-length story. Even if both characters aren't annoying enough when they are acting like brats - and don't get me started on the demonic precious brat of theirs - the story just has to make no sense in everything else.

For example, Noel wants to get involved in politics, but he acts more like a self-indulgent brat to whom the world is his playground and the captive audience for his whining. Am I supposed to root for him to succeed? I personally believe that a politician can sleep with goats for all I care, as long as that person does right to me and the rest of the country, so I don't care that he wants a fake wife to fish for the support needed to give his political career the boost it needs. But seriously now, faking an engagement and then breaking it off the moment he gets what he wants? Does he think people are that stupid not to see through this charade?

Worse, breaking it off with his baby momma? Twice? And he doesn't see what a potentially career killer this move is going to be? Olivia Pope will die from just hearing about the whole nonsense. The fact that neither he nor his so-called advisors immediately think of paying off Ryla for her silence about the brat while finding a less messy fake wife suggests to me that Team Carter are all idiots and people are better off having a baboon in Noel's place in the congress.

The author strings together popular clichés to tell a very familiar tale of two childish people screaming at each other while insisting that all this tomfoolery is foreplay, but she then makes a bigger mistake of adding in some political stuff that makes the whole thing annoying and illogical. The story is readable, I guess, but does that matter when the whole thing makes no sense whatsoever?

Rating: 48


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