Ok, let’s just get this out of the way right now. Ignore the cover, don’t think about the title, read the book, laugh a lot. That’s what I did and it works. Trust me on this. If I had not seen the buzz on Twitter and Goodreads about this book, I probably would have passed on the review opportunity. The cover and title just don’t say romance to me. Luckily I pay attention to my romance reading friends and this little gem did not slip through my fingers.
Johnny Smith is a reluctant man’s man. It’s not that he doesn’t like that guys like him and want to be like him, but he’d like to impress the ladies now and then too. But sadly, most women are just not impressed with his sports loving, poker playing, beer drinking ways. Which is really odd since he really is a pretty decent guy.
Johnny tells his story beginning with a little history starting at his birth, taking us through his awkward teen years, then college, up until present day where he is a well-educated, 33 year old house painter who has had nothing but bad luck with women. He’s never had a long term, serious relationship, but not for lack of wanting. He’s a good-looking guy, intelligent, but women just don’t like him. All his friends are married, and he’d like to settle down at some point as well.
When he meets Helen, he really likes her and, in his words, he doesn’t want to louse it up. He enlists the help of his lesbian best friend, his high school crush (who is now his buddy’s wife), and his circle of friends to help him court Helen…and avoid lousing it all up. Johnny is basically clueless about what women want, but now that he’s attracted Helen, he’ll do most anything to keep her attention.
I literally laughed out loud while reading this book. Not just once but many times throughout the story. Told from Johnny’s point of view we get to see his world through his eyes and experience his feelings and insecurities first hand. Sounds sort of angsty right? But no, Johnny is fully aware of his clueless-ness and basically owns it. He doesn’t accept it though. He’s ready for change. And no matter how ridiculous his circumstances become he just rolls with it. And refreshingly, so does Helen.
At the “barn opera”: <–Don’t worry, you’ll get this when you read the book.
I lean down a bit and whisper, “Am I the only one who feels like I wandered into an old I Love Lucy episode? Do you think if I refuse to marry the farmer’s daughter I’ll get thrown in the hoosegow?”
“Don’t worry.” Helen pats my arm. “If you do, I’ll get you out.”
Helen is great. We get the impression that she is interested in Johnny but not overly interested. She doesn’t fall all over herself trying to get his attention. As Johnny tries to be the man he thinks Helen would like, we get little hints that Helen wants to be the woman she thinks Johnny would like as well. Their courtship is a series of LOL’s even though Helen is not fully aware of just how crazy it is.
I tried to pick a favorite quote but everything I wanted to pick either wouldn’t make sense to someone who hasn’t read the story, or I felt it would ruin and very funny moment for someone when they do get to read the book. So, I decided to be cryptic and name my favorite scenes for those that have read the book and hopefully not ruin anything for those that are planing to read it.
- The BFF lesbian kiss scene. Boing!
- The barn opera
- The hole conversation. (A total snowball conversation)
- The Ferris wheel scene: awwww
- The baseball game, foul ball scene
- The cat scene
Curious yet? I could go on and on.
My only slight disappointment was in the ending. It was abrupt and kind of cheesy. As cute as it was, Johnny still lived up to his reputation for making women roll their eyes at him as I could hardly contain my impulse to roll. I wanted to say, “Really Johnny? Now?” But it was still a cute ending to a really fun book. I hope the author will continue to give us stories from Johnny’s circle of friends.