Wednesday, 20 March 2019

#CBR11 Book 8: "99 Percent Mine" by Sally Thorne

Page count: 368 pages
Audio book length: 11 hrs 23 mins
Rating: 3 stars

From the blurb, because it's now a month and a half since I finished the audio book:

Crush: a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

Oh, Sally Thorne. You wrote my absolutely favourite book of 2016, a book I still comfort read every so often. It was always extremely unlikely that your second novel was going to surpass or even match The Hating Game in quality. Sadly, by including a little bonus epilogue for said novel at the end of this one, you just made it even more obvious to me that this book was a sad disappointment. I felt more satisfaction and joy reading that short chapter featuring Lucy and Josh than an entire novel about Darcy and Tom. So, thank you for that extra little glimpse into their world and relationship, but you didn't do yourself any favours.

If that's not become clear already, my expectations for this second romance from Sally Thorne were very high. At least one person I know online managed to score an ARC, and because her comments weren't exactly gushing, I tried to not get my hopes up unreasonably high, but even so, this book was not was I was wanting or hoping for. This is by no means a bad book. To someone who doesn't rate The Hating Game in their top 20 romances of all time (it may even be in the top 10, I haven't re-ranked my romance preferences in quite a few years now), this is probably a perfectly enjoyable and fun little book. I just loved Lucy and Josh and their journey from work foes to lovers so intensely. My reviews are subjective, your mileage may vary.

Unfortunately, to me, this book was merely OK. I struggled with Darcy as a protagonist and I really didn't think Tom was the perfect man, no matter how hard Darcy tried to tell me that he was. I suspect I may have liked both protagonists more if this entire book hadn't been from Darcy's POV (just like Lucy is the only POV character in The Hating Game.). If I had been able to see Darcy through Tom's eyes, and been privy to his thoughts and observations, not just Darcy's, I think the story may have appealed to me more. I generally always prefer the POVs of both sides of the couple in a romance, since it helps me get to know the characters better.

The character I liked the most in the book (barring Darcy and Jamie's now deceased grandmother, who seemed pretty awesome) was Truly, Darcy's best friend. Not sure I liked the reveal late in the story about her and some of the things she kept from Darcy, but she was sweet and interesting, and I would like to read a romance with her as the main character (as long as the love interest was not who it's sort of hinted at here).

While I found Darcy difficult to like, I actively disliked her twin brother Jamie, who is a forceful presence off screen for the first half of the novel and possibly even more annoying and supercilious when he actually appears. The revelation that Darcy's whole family would go off on vacations without her, leaving her with her grandmother, just because she had a heart condition, was just appalling to me. I pretty much hated Darcy's whole family, and cannot believe Tom had so much of his ideas of self and confidence tied up in what Darcy and Jamie, let alone their parents, might think.

While I occasionally read a novel where I find the hero unworthy of the heroine, here I found myself in the opposite situation. Tom would have been vastly better off without Darcy or Jamie in his life. It's been a month and a half since I finished this book, and I still feel sad and disappointed every time I think about the book. I know Ms Thorne suffered from writer's block for a while trying to write this, and it cannot be easy to write a follow-up when your first novel has been so widely embraced by a community as utterly awesome. While this didn't work for me, I also know a lot of people who still enjoyed it. I haven't given up on Sally Thorne, but will try to temper my expectations a bit more with her next novel. I also hope she'll allow herself to include the hero's POV there as well.

Judging a book by its cover: I know it's probably meant to be cute, but I find the almost cartoonish representation of the characters, with their vague and undefined facial and physical features to be a bit annoying. I think a drawn cover can work very well, and these depictions leave more to the imagination about the main characters' physical appearance than a photo would, but this seems almost too impressionistic. I like the cheerful yellow colour, though. That's nice.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

1 comment:

  1. I'm reading through your blog for noggin therapy. I gave Thorne HUGE leeway on this one just a you did. I wanted to like it and the characters. I didn't particularly, but I will absolutely give her more chances as I expect the success of The Hating Game left her with an embarrassment of riches and pressure.