Wednesday, 27 June 2012

I Only Have Eyes For You by Bella Andre

I Only Have Eyes For You (2012)
Bella Andre
Grade: C+
Genre: contemporary romance
Sex scenes: hot
Source: NetGalley
Sullivans: (1) The Look of Love, (2) From This Moment On, (3) Can't Help Falling in Love, (4) I Only Have Eyes For You

Sophie Sullivan is the youngest of eight (yes! eight!) children and a twin to boot. She's never felt as confident as her siblings and has always plays by the rules, earning her the nickname 'Nice' to her twin's 'Naughty'. Her passion is books and her job as a librarian means that she's able to integrate her love for reading into everyday life. Her job may not be as exciting as the paths that her siblings have taken, but Sophie loves her job and her life is almost complete but for one thing: Jake McCann.

Jake spent so much of his childhood and time with the Sullivans that he is treated as the ninth Sullivan. He runs the successful chain of McCann pubs and like the other Sullivan boys, is known for being a bit of a player. He's loved Sophie from a distance for years, but knows he can never be good enough for her because of his rough childhood and upbringing. His mother deserted him when he was young and his father was a drunk who beat him when he felt like it. Even more shamefully where Sophie is concerned, Jake can barely read. Sophie's brother Zach is the only one who knows Jake's secret and it is only after ten years worth of tutors that Jake manages to cope with running his business, but he relies on phonecalls and face-to-face dealings as much as possible. Considering Sophie's love for books, Jake's secret is one that he could never bear for her to discover.

IOHEFY opens on Marcus' vineyard, the setting for the wedding of Chase and Chloe. Sophie has been rushed off her feet making sure that every last detail has been catered to and she's just taking a moment to bask before going to get ready when Jake appears at her elbow. Seeing him all dressed up in his tux, she does some quick-thinking and hatches a plan to make the first move. Sophie persuades Jake to kiss her later on to make an ex jealous, so long as they do it where her brothers can't see. Jake reluctantly agrees but leaves Sophie with some nasty barbs in an attempt to warn her away. Sophie is only more determined to make him eat his words.

Sophie is not usually one for dressing up, but with her plan and Jake's parting words in mind, she directs hair and make-up to go all out. Paired with her slinky pink bridesmaid dress, her brothers and Jake need to take double and triple takes before they realise that the brunette bombshell in front of them is their one and same 'Nice' librarian little sister. Her brothers know that something is up but Sophie refuses to tell them what it is. Her appearance has their protective instincts kicking in and Jake is torn between wanting to punch the lights out of any guy who stares too long and whisking her away to find out whether she really is naked under her dress.

They share a heart-melting kiss where Sophie confesses her secret love for him and Jake is stunned. He wants nothing more than to voice his reciprocal feelings but in her own interests, he pushes her away.  Sophie's having none of it. She's waited long enough and after the reception, she turns up on Jake's doorstep and seduces him.

Two months later, Sophie discovers that she's pregnant. Jake had left her that night of the wedding while she was sleeping and she hasn't seen or heard from him since. Jake has been avoiding the other Sullivans like the plague but when Sophie makes her announcement, he steps up to the plate and declares that they're getting married. Sophie refuses. She hadn't planned on children yet, but she'll love him or her all the same. Jake's midnight escape two months ago shows that he has no desire to commit and she won't force him just because he feels responsible. Her brothers might want to strangle the pair of them, but Sophie is firm. Jake begs for a week: if he can't persuade Sophie to marry him by the end of the seven days, then they'll do things her way. Sophie agrees thinking that he can't possibly change her mind in such a short space of time, but Jake makes it clear that the bedroom won't be excluded from their bargain ...

I read an excerpt of If You Were Mine (book five) on Heroes and Heartbreakers which I loved. I found another one for IOHEFY and was even more intrigued. It's a little trite but I love unrequited love stories like this one between Sophie and Jake. They've both loved each other from a distance for years, but both were afraid to act on their feelings, each believing that they're not good enough for the other. Sophie sees herself as the odd-one-out amongst her siblings and so I really liked that her book allowed her to come out of her shell and take charge of her life.

Another thing I love are series based around families. I was unbelievably ecstatic when I found out that there were eight Sullivan siblings including six brothers! I come from a fairly large family but have no brothers. I love how protective and alpha the Sullivans are over Sophie and that they all have their own personalities and do their own separate things. From what I've gathered from IOHEFY, this is a list of the Sullivan kids in age-order with their respective professions:

Marcus - owns a vineyard
Smith - actor
Chase - photographer
Ryan - professional baseball player
Zach - owns a garage
Gabe - firefighter
Lori - choreographer
Sophie - librarian

I think that's where Chase fits in - it's only a guess. I haven't read any of the other books in the series yet, but the one that I'm really looking forward to that hasn't even been written yet is Smith's story. He's portrayed in IOHEFY as Sophie's favourite brother who was like a father to her when their father died when she was two years old. He's a world-famous actor but appears very intense and private about his personal life. I can imagine he would be a fabulous hero. The excerpt I read of Zach's book was very promising as he sees himself as the type of guy who will never fall in love. I think it'll make an interesting read.

I was very disappointed that Jake didn't have the shit kicked out of him more when the Sullivans learn of their relationship and Sophie's pregnancy. It's practically an absolute requirement when a heroine has that many over-protective brothers and I was really looking forward to seeing their anger//alpha-male protective instincts kick in. Jake's fight with Zach was pretty good and his declaration of his love for Sophie during their fight was unbelievably sweet, but I had been expecting more. I'm a hard girl to please.

From the excerpt I read, I hadn't been expecting for Sophie to get pregnant. I have no idea what I thought would happen, but it wasn't that. Despite that, I did enjoy it. Sophie's a very maternal, likeable character and her attempt to be an independent single mother is probably something that I would have done myself if I were in her position. She'd definitely waited long enough for Jake and seeing as glaciers moved faster than he did, I love that she took the initiative to seduce him.

There is a LOT of sex for only 170 pages. In that space, Sophie and Jake have sex nine times. Yes, I counted. There's just something so incredibly sexy about sex when the heroine is pregnant. The scene where Jake and Sophie are together for the first time after they learn she's pregnant reminded me a little of a similar scene between Zane and Barrie in Linda Howard's MacKenzie's Pleasure. It's probably my favourite MacKenzie story (they're even more alpha-male than the Sullivan boys - heaven) and Ms Andre didn't nearly reach Ms Howard's hotness level, but it was still great all the same.

So why did I only give a C+? I was really excited by the excerpt that I read and to be honest, IOHEFY didn't quite meet my expectations. It was a really sweet story and a very quick read but I felt that it was lacking a bit and I was left thinking 'is that it?', partly because it was quite short. IOHEFY generally flowed very nicely but there were a few parts where I felt the dialogue and the way that Ms Andre presented the scene were a little awkward and cringy. This was most notably felt immediately after Jake and Sophie's first kiss where she pours out her undying love for him and confesses that she dressed up especially for him. It's a hugely sensitive scene of great importance for Sophie but I just felt that her honesty and integrity worked against her - she doesn't know if Jake feels anything for her beyond the sweltering kiss they've just shared, yet she still takes the risk and confesses that "I did it for you, Jake. To see if I could finally get you to notice that I was alive. To see that I'm not a little girl anymore with a silly crush. That I'm a woman." Would you really say something like that? Tbh, I don't think I would have the courage and even if I did, I would have been devastated by Jake's response and not pursued it any further, but to each her own. Huge respect for Sophie, though, for having the courage to make the first move and carry on despite Jake's set-downs.

Other than that little moan, it was an enjoyable, fast read. I haven't done contemporary like this for a while and so it was very refreshing. I'd love to read the other books in the series because Ms Andre has built up a very strong cast that are very easy to love. I would have happily read more about Sophie and Jake, so I can only hope that we'll continue to see little snippets of their future, pregnancy, birth etc in the later books.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction

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