Author: Ainslie Paton

The Love Coupon by Ainslie Paton

The Love Coupon by Ainslie PatonThe Love Coupon by Ainslie Paton
Series: Stubborn Hearts #2
Published by Carina Press on March 9th 2018
Pages: 253
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three-stars

Can you fall in love if you have the right coupon?

Tom O’Connell had a problem. His temporary roommate, Flick Dalgetty was noisy, messy, made of bees and had enough energy to power an amusement park. The problem was he shouldn’t have kissed her.

Flick Dalgetty had a problem. Her landlord, Tom O’Connell was made of granite. He was a big, repressed anti-social ogre, but the man knew how to kiss. The problem was he felt guilty about hooking up and she wanted more.

Until Flick’s gift of thirty coupons, each entitling Tom to one guilt and obligation free activity, from bowling and bubble bathing to morning delight and lingerie buying, removed all the guesswork of being incompatible partners and temporary roommates.

Now the only problem was Flick had to leave and Tom needed to stay and they might be falling in love—and there wasn’t a coupon for that.

Love can be a sexy game until it becomes the only one your stubborn heart wants to play.

Quirk is the order of the day each time I read an Ainslie Paton novel, from the (sometimes hilarious) descriptions of her characters to the even odder situations that they find themselves in. But these can also be a refreshing change from the monotony of encountering variants of the same type of plots that have been reworked in so many ways.

Paton’s style however, does take getting used to—from metaphors that never quite occur to you make regular occurrences to odd, long dialogues to hyperboles that give you pause—and I suspect it might put some readers in one camp or the other. ‘The Love Coupon’ safe to say, follows this kind of pattern in what’s essentially, a roommates to lovers story based on Flick Dalgetty pulling Tom O’Connell out of his comfort zone in every direction he’d never anticipated.

Make no mistake, Flick Dalgetty came in with a bang. True to her name (like a fly you want to flick off), Flick was already made out to be a circus-act protagonist who went at everything like the Duracell Bunny and then some—just to read in third person about her was exhausting. As a character who seemed to exist to poke the conservative, routine-based Tom out of his comfort zone, I couldn’t help but at times find her pesky, needy and almost petulantly acting up when it came to the long-suffering Tom—essentially rubbing me the wrong way because she didn’t know how to leave things alone. There were parts about her family though, that made her vulnerably relatable and those were the bits that I enjoyed reading the most.

What I found odd was that the love coupon part of the story didn’t come in until at least half the story later, the first of which felt like long dialogues and Tom/Flick rather quickly feeling their way around each other, at parts literally. I did however, appreciate Paton establishing their odd relationship first, before the coupon idea came in, which definitely helped solidify this weird bond that they had going by then.

Still, while I’m sold on the premise of the story, Tom/Flick felt like a batty idea that I couldn’t quite shake by the end of their tearful declarations that they couldn’t live without each other. There was overall, still an oddity about ‘The Love Coupon’ that felt a tad ‘off’ to me—this is obviously just me—as Tom/Flick abruptly and impulsively rode off into their (Washington) sunset before the credits rolled. It’s definitely rom-com worthy though, so if that’s your sort of thing, ‘The Love Coupon’ is a perfect bet.

three-stars

Damaged Goods by Ainslie Paton

Damaged Goods by Ainslie PatonDamaged Goods by Ainslie Paton
Series: Sidelined #2
Published by Supervised by Cats on July 29th 2016
Pages: 327
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three-stars

This is the story of a man who can’t get it up and a woman who’s never gotten it on

Sidelined by a broken back, CEO, Owen Lange is confronted by two things: his sex life will never be the same and he’s dependent on his pain meds. He never expected to have his dependence called out as addiction by a junior help desk employee.

Cara Douglas knows all about pain and loss. She’d had her sights set on the US Olympic Gymnastics Team before an accident landed her at a help desk screen. The last thing she expected to be helping with was an intervention for her boss.

Owen doesn’t thank Cara for her trouble. He calls her a snitch. But even through his paranoia he knows she’s right. After all, addiction runs in his family. He also knows he has to make it up to her, but the only thing Cara wants is the one thing Owen can’t give her.

Question: What do an injured athlete finally ready for no-strings sex and a nice guy who can’t get it up have in common?

Two characters, two victims of traumatic injuries a decade apart, both looking for validation in their own way, except that their worlds don’t collide. But when they do, it’s rocky, difficult and filled with obstacle after obstacle that I could never imagine would populate a romance novel.

The premise of the book was enough to hook me in. Owen and Cara, the lead characters, with their own personal failures and pain, were the stars of it.

Ainslie Paton does quite a remarkable job in the exploration of what passion and intimacy really meant and to a lesser extent, questions where we’d be or how we’d look at ourselves if sex wasn’t an equation anymore in relationships. That Cara accepted Owen as he was – nerve-damaged and limp – made her my personal heroine. .

While Owen grovelled, I earned for a return to the time (or pages) where they loved each other as damaged souls – yes, physically – because that was so much more real than the happy, able-to-get-it-up-again Owen. Would he have done all of this with the same confidence had it not happened for him? His return to normal erectile function seemed too good to be true and I’m not ashamed to say I regretted it. To be honest, I would have rather it didn’t, not at least until things were straightened out emotionally between them because I’ll never really know if he’ll actually accept Cara’s acceptance of them if his ability to have penetrative sex disappeared once again. I wished this had been addressed, even as his changed status back to “fully-functional” man seemed to make the grovelling and the abrupt HEA easier.

The difficulty of the subject aside, I thought the process of reading wasn’t made easier by Paton’s writing style…which I’ll have to admit, ultimately felled me. Too filled with hyperboles and phrases that felt very put upon – along with some measure of artifice -, I thought the writing style itself, ironically, downed my enjoyment of the book. And to say this without trying to sound like a bloody snob here is an impossible task. Yet I felt off-balance a lot for most of it because of the long internal monologues and the occasions where a character’s every excruciating thought, physical action and overreaction noted down in a manner that seemed sometimes overblown. Everything, despite the American setting, had a distinctly un-American sheen to it and the manic writing (which, instead of being poetically succinct) tended to emphasise that. It smoothed out midway through enough for me to enjoy myself as Owen and Cara went through the easy going bits of their relationship at mid-point. That reprieve didn’t last long however; the screw-up in Owen/Cara’s relationship was inevitable and so went the writing acrobatics again that proved as unpredictable as every book that Paton turns out.

I’m hesitant to say I disliked this book – because I didn’t – yet it’s just as hard to say that I loved it. The long and short of it was, the unusual plot caught me; the way it was delivered, not too much. But give it a shot anyhow, because there’s really no accounting for individual taste, as the other stellar reviews have already proven.

three-stars