Thursday, May 4, 2017

[ARC Review]: "Crazy For You"

romance novel covers, contemporary romance, Crazy For You by Rina GrayCrazy For You by Rina Gray
Publisher: Crimson Romance (May 8, 2017)
Series: Crush on You, 3
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Baseball hotshot Jake Ross isn’t looking for love, only a good woman to come to his rescue. His bad boy rep lands him on the covers of gossip rags instead of sports magazines and could cost him a multi-million-dollar sponsorship deal. 

Enter Charlotte Jones. The shy media coordinator is determined to lose weight and avoid the health concerns that run in her family, but after months of middling results, she needs someone to talk her out of throwing in the towel. 

If Charlotte pretends to be Jake’s girlfriend, he’ll coach her on how to hit her numbers on the scales. It’s a home run of an idea … until sparks begin to fly. But has Jake really forsaken his playboy ways? 

Where to Buy*:
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My Review:

Where do I start with this book? Well, if you remember, the cover caught my eye recently for L4C. It’s a cute cover! I saw it on NG and thought I’d give it shot. To be blunt, I wish I hadn’t. Reading this was a waste of my day.

Fair warning, this will NOT be a spoiler-free review.

Crazy For You involves a pro baseball player (he’s a pitcher) and a heroine who does . . . I’m not sure what exactly? Her job wasn’t made clear; I know she volunteers at the same center he does, but that’s not her job. She mentions something about working with his PR team at one point in the past but otherwise I’m still unsure what she does. Anyway, there’s a fake relationship in here, a surprise pregnancy, a crazy stalker situation, and, oh, yeah, a heroine who spends the entire book trying to lose weight. -_- We’ll get back to that shortly, as a lot of my issues revolved around this.

From the very start of the book, I should have known this wasn’t going to work for me. Charlotte has been told she’s prediabetic and needs to do something to avoid it getting worse. But the way she goes about handling this news is sooooo wrong and pissed me off. First, she doesn’t tell anyone – not friends, not family, no one. She treats it like an embarrassing secret. “Oh no, no one can know about my prediabetes!”. Second, instead of working with a doctor, dietician, and trainer to go about changing her lifestyle in a HEALTHY AND GOOD WAY, she basically starts her own crash dieting – barely eating 500 calories a day (and even that basically salad food only) and working out for a few hours every single day. She drops weight like crazy – and also faints one day and hits her head. Gee, I wonder why?

Instead of stretching, she stared at herself in the mirror, verifying and validating her weight-loss progress.

This. Is. Not. How. You. Lose. Weight. Prediabetes or not. And for what it is worth, I have prediabetes; I’m not the perfect example of how to handle it, but trust me when I still say that Charlotte’s way of changing her lifestyle here was total unhealthy BS from start to finish. Worse, the way this was written, she wasn’t losing the weight to lower her risk of prediabetes, that was just the convenient excuse that was thrown around randomly. A person looking to lower their numbers and risk would NOT be so focused on the scale and calories. It’s about balance – sugar, carbs, getting exercise, yes, but not the way she went about it. Her character was a woman who firmly believed she HAD to lose all this weight to be better, to look better, and the prediabetes angle was just thrown in while also being completely ignored.

So. I didn’t like or connect with Charlotte, especially over her struggles with weight and how she handled, or rather didn’t handle, it. Because this was not healthy. And before you say “Yeah, but sometimes people DO unhealthy things like that!” Sure. And you CAN put those in your books – if they fit your character – but you MUST address in the book and to that character that what they are doing is not healthy. And that wasn’t done here. Oh, sure, Jake steps in and says he’ll be her trainer and help her, knowing she was eating way too little and working way too much, but even after he has that brief moment of “This is not healthy, let me teach her what is”, it’s gone, too, and I felt like he encouraged her focus on limiting her food to this unrealistic and still unhealthy obsession about calories in vs calories out. Because standing by silently and letting a person continue on such a path is still a way of encouraging the actions.

Again, focus seems to be on the POUNDS to be lost, not about helping her to be healthy or be stronger or anything, you know, POSITIVE AND CORRECT. Not at all body positive here; maybe not the worst offender I’ve read with the weight loss / plus sized heroine theme, but definitely not a good one either.

Oh, and Jake was the fat, unpopular nerdy boy until he decided to lose the weight and be a jock. So there’s that piece of “UGH, why are you doing this?”.


Also, there’s this “gem” of a thought from Jake, in just the first chapter:

He scanned her body. She could stand to lose twenty-five, maybe thirty. Fifty would put her in the same category as the rail-thin models she’d accused him of dating. It would be a crying shame if she lost all those luscious curves.

He nodded. He knew women well enough to know that he couldn’t argue about weight-loss. He’d just make damn sure to stop her at twenty-five pounds.

Shut. The. Fuck. Up. What hero thinks “She could stand to lose a few pounds”? Oh, right: NOT A HERO. And FFS, his thought directly after that she should still keep some of those curves does NOT cancel out his dickwad thought! I should have stopped at this point because he started off in a bad light and I never  could grow to like him after that.

Okay, so then we move on to the sex. Oh, boy, this caused me to go on an entire rant on Twitter the other day.

So, a little backstory first. Charlotte has only had sex once, and it was not a good experience. The guy didn’t do anything for her first, it hurt, and when she asked him to stop, he did, but left pissed and then broke up with her over it. On top of that, she’s never had an orgasm. I’m assuming she means no orgasm, period, as in no masturbation fun either. So she’s sexually inexperienced in general, her one brief experienced was horrible, and she’s never had an orgasm.

Let’s move on to her first time with Jake because UGH.

There’s no foreplay. He literally takes off her clothes (and his, obviously), puts her down on the bed, grabs a condom, and thrusts right in. That’s it. Within a paragraph or so of just him thrusting, he comes and then she does. And she’s surprised! Well so am I, honey. He didn’t do anything for you, other than one rogue nipple lick.

To repeat:
She orgasmed through penetration only.
With no foreplay.
When she’s never had an orgasm before.

Yeah, okay, sure. His peen is just that magical, huh?

On top of all that, before the sex, they had been in a fight for days, she came over to talk to him and fix things, so she’s uncertain that he’ll even talk to her, let alone that they’re going to get horizontal. And she has hang-ups still about her body, and is shy about sex because she has no experience and he’s such a player. But you’re telling me that none of that matters, and that as soon as he put his Magical Peen to her vajayjay, she was suddenly not just ready (WITHOUT FOREPLAY FFS) but also orgasmed from it shortly after?

I’m calling bullshit. Total bullshit.

And here’s the thing: yes, this book’s steam level is mild and not very explicit. Which is fine! But the low heat/explicitly level is NOT an excuse for this. Authors, you can show/tell the readers that the heroine is getting her own pleasure – and not by magical penetration only thrusts – without having to throw cock,  clit, and pussy around every other word. If you’re not doing fade-to-black, you need to still show that your heroine is enjoying herself in a realistic way. Are there some women who can orgasm through penetration only? Sure, but it IS very, very rare, and especially when you add in the other details I mentioned (body insecurities, no foreplay, no previous orgasms or real sexual experiences), it’s nearly impossible for her to have orgasmed like that. It just is. Women’s pleasure is as much tied to the mind and foreplay as it is actual intercourse, so don’t do this half-assed BS, please.

And the other on-page sex scene isn’t much better, still quickly done, no foreplay for her, but instant orgasms for both. Yawn. Would have preferred fade-to-black to this lackluster sex, to be honest.

So, PSA: Authors, you need foreplay. You need the heroine getting her pleasure and feeling good. And you don’t have to write explicit erotica to do this! You can be vague and STILL give the heroine, and your readers, the satisfaction here.

Tied in to the sex, let’s talk about birth control. Why, WHY is it that lately I have read MULTIPLE heroines who start birth control and within 1-2 weeks ditch the condoms and believe they are 100% safe?! Keep in mind, I’m no expert and don’t claim to be, but even I am not going to trust BC alone after 1-2 weeks. NOPE NOPE NOPE. But these heroines, including Miss Charlotte here, do and OF COURSE it leads to accidental pregnancy. What’s worse is Jake throws a fit and tries to accuse her of trapping him with the pregnancy – which is shitty enough, of course, but hey, he’s famous and has been through such tricks from women before, so okay, he only gets partial side-eye for this knee-jerk reaction. What pissed me off was the fact that he basically throws the only-two-weeks-on-BC back at her, blaming her for promising it was safe at that point. Dude, did she force you at gun point to throw out the condoms after those two weeks? No? THEN IT IS NOT HER FAULT ALONE, SHITHEAD.

Note on the pregnancy – or rather, note on the editing oops during the course of the pregnancy: in one chapter, her due date is May. In another, it’s suddenly early August. Ummmm . . . That’s a big jump and also not possible since they weren’t having sex during the time that would equal an August birth. Continuity editing error, I’m sure, but that bothered me through the rest of the book.

And again, her health and weight drop in and out of the story willy-nilly. Because of her prediabetes this should be a high-risk pregnancy, and while that’s mentioned when she’s first told about the pregnancy, after that it just falls to the wayside, never to be mentioned again. I just wanted consistency, you guys. If something’s supposed to be part of a character’s story, then it should BE a part of their story, otherwise why bother pulling it in? No, I’m not suggesting that her prediabetes is the entirety of her character, but damn, it was so inconsistent here.

I really hated the hero and his asshole ways at times. Like this tantrum, he has when she wants to TEMPORARILY leave and get things figured out for herself.

“Are you trying to punish me?”

“No, Jake. Not at all. I just need to love myself a little bit more.”

“You can’t love yourself here?” Anger dragged his tone to the gutter.

“I need to go home, Jake. I’m not asking.”

“What the hell, Charlotte? I’m sorry I’m not Prince Charming, but there’s no need to throw away what we have.”

“I didn’t ask you to be my prince anything. My moving down south isn’t forever. [….] But for once, I’m prioritizing me, and I won’t have you bully or emotionally blackmail me for feeling this way.”

Calm the fuck down, dude. You know what you can still do when she leaves town for a bit? YOU CAN GROW A PAIR AND TALK TO EACH OTHER LIKE MATURE ADULTS TRYING TO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP. FFS, her needing some space is not the end of the world if you two will still COMMUNICATE. Also, while I wanted to cheer for her having a backbone during this scene, I didn’t feel like it stayed, so in the end I still walked away not caring about her – or him.

And as the cherry on top of all this, there’s also a crazy stalker. Of course there is. And the crazy stalker is a jealous woman who wants Jake. Because of course it is. And it’s the one person that he sees every day and would never think to question. Because of course. Ugh ugh ugh. And the woman was crazy – hiring someone to kidnap Charlotte and kill her, while intentionally injuring herself so as to have proof that she “tried” to save Charlotte but failed. I’m just over the crazy jealous woman stalker in romancelandia. Can we stop?

Okay, one last complaint and then I’m wrapping up, I swear: Charlotte’s family. They are all completely horrible to her, for literally her entire life, always poking at her weight, asking why she can’t be like her sister (who, of course, is also skinny, like the rest of the immediate family), etc. But suddenly after ONE time of Charlotte standing up to them and telling them off for treating her like that, they’re all best buds and all is forgiven? Nah, I’m not going for that. Sure, it’s family, but you know what, family can still be shitty to you and it doesn’t mean you have to automatically forgive them BECAUSE they’re family. I’m just having a hard time believing that an entire family, after what, more than 20, 25 years?, is suddenly going to stop talking to her like that and change just because she yelled at them over dinner. Not happening.

Was this the worst book I’ve read? No, there have been worse. But at the same time, there wasn’t anything about it that I liked enough to give it any higher of a rating. I alternated between bored and annoyed with these two and the story. Highly doubt I’ll try another by this author; too many books and too little time to waste it on another potential disappointment/rage read.

1 STAR! 

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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.

*Note: The quotes used belong to Rina Gray; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them. Any mistakes or typos in the quotes are my own fault.

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