Friday, August 14, 2020

REVIEW: Better Love (book) by Daisy Prescott

Better Love is the fourth book in Prescott's Wingmen series. It's a contemporary romance. I bought my copy brand new at the author's table at Book Bonanza 2019.

This review includes spoilers.


Dan is now known as the "Pizza Man," the semi-reclusive owner of Whidbey Island's best pizza place. However, once upon a time he was the head of a corporate empire devoted to bread. Back in those days, he dated his PR specialist, Roslyn, and probably would have married her if their paths hadn't gone in different directions. At some point, he realized that the corporate world and all his money were doing things to him that he didn't like, so he gave it all up (except his Porsche, and more than enough money to live comfortably) and escaped to Whidbey, where he could be an ordinary guy. Unfortunately, Roslyn hadn't wanted to leave her own life and career behind.

A friend of Dan's needs some PR help, and Dan knows just who to call. After all these years, he's never forgotten Roslyn or gotten over her. But does she feel the same? And will they be able to make this second chance work out?

I skipped straight from the first book in this series to the fourth, which means I missed out on Tom and Hailey's romance and whatever mess happened between Tom and Ashley, as well as Erik and Cari's relationship and whatever Erik did that required Roslyn's PR skills. I missed the info that Erik's book could have provided, but the bits and pieces of Ashley's story told me that I absolutely made the correct decision when I opted to skip Tom's book. I don't care that Tom finally found his one true love, the guy was gross and I can't help but judge Ashley a bit for falling for him (and apparently attacking him with ground beef when he chose someone else over her?).

Anyway, I mostly liked Dan. He was older than the usual contemporary romance hero, in his forties, and fairly comfortable in his own skin. He had a few cavemanish jealousy moments, but for the most part he tried to rein those reactions in, and I appreciated that.

Like the other books in this series, this was first person POV from the hero's perspective, so the heroine's personality and viewpoint didn't come through quite as well. My initial impression of her was of a driven and talented career woman, and the way Dan introduced her to others seemed to agree with that. She worked throughout the book, and although readers didn't really get to see the specifics, she did seem like the sort of person who was not only good at her job but also enjoyed it, despite the occasional annoying client.

I wish Prescott had stuck with that. Unfortunately, partway through, Dan discovered that Roslyn was taking anxiety meds, the implication being that Roslyn's job was having a negative effect on her (never mind that it's possible for a person to both like their job and experience anxiety due to that same job). Then there was the whole baby thing - it turned out that this career woman secretly kind of wanted to have kids but didn't think she'd be able to do it and also continue to pursue her career. She'd chosen her career, but maybe there was some regret there.

One of this book's biggest problems was that there wasn't any real conflict. There was the potential for Dan to screw things up with jealousy, but he was (thankfully) a bit more mature now than he'd been when he and Roslyn were first together and better able to manage his emotions. The issue of Roslyn and her career could have made for some good conflict - it was clear that they still had some unresolved issues there - but nothing happened there either.

It wasn't that the conflict over Roslyn's job was resolved, it was just never properly addressed. At one point in the book, Roslyn had a scare that she thought might interfere with her career. Dan's first response was "Don't worry, you can just get a less demanding career." I liked that he recognized and was proud of how good Roslyn was at her job, but the way he kept suggesting that she either quit working or switch to some other career bugged me. Why didn't he step up and say he'd cut back on his time at his pizza place so that he could help her out and allow her to continue her career? It bugged me even more that they never sat down and properly talked about all of this. It just suddenly stopped being an issue for no reason that I could see (in case you're wondering, no, Roslyn didn't quit her job, so this issue really did need to be explicitly addressed).

It was an okay book overall. Whidbey Island actually felt alive and populated this time around, and Dan and Roslyn were a nice couple. However, I'm beginning to think that Prescott doesn't know how to write and resolve good and believable conflict. There's either no real conflict at all, like in the first book, or the conflict is tepid and ignored by the characters, like in this one.

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