Published by Swerve on February 7th 2017
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Detective Daphne Rossi needs to figure out a way to get her career out from under her family s overbearing shadow, and she may have just found her solution in genius computer whiz Landon McGee . . .
In exchange for looking deeper into a robbery at Landon s software firm, Daphne asks for a deal of her own: she needs him to play her boyfriend. A couple months of hand-holding around her family to get them off her back, and both Daphne and Landon walk away with what they want.
Just as their fake relationship starts heating up for real, a family secret shakes Landon to the core. As Landon struggles to find what is real in his life, and come to terms with the people he thought he knew, can he find solace in the one woman he thought he didn't know at all?
I thought ‘Just Once’ started quite well, though the pace and the plot went somewhat awry after the first quarter. The blurb however, doesn’t quite describe what the story really is: an attraction that blooms the moment Detective Daphne Rossi begins to investigate a break-in at an upcoming tech maven’s firm (which neither really denies), though it didn’t seem as though Daphne was asking Landon to play the boyfriend (now, wouldn’t that be unethical?) at all. Instead, the book reads like a simple case of an office break-in, but to get to the bottom of it apparently is a long, winding journey that cracks open family history and pulls every other secondary character in the periphery into the mix of things.
But it’s difficult to recommend a story when I’ve got a huge number of mixed feelings about it. I liked Landon and Daphne mostly, though their individual blow-ups at times felt a tad bit dramatic for me and the progress of their relationship itself isn’t too unpredictable though most of how they got on as filled with, well, filler.
Perhaps what got to me most were the multiple POVs and the introduction of so many strings—that weren’t tied up—which made the story all the more frustrating because the roundabout route it took for Daphne and Landon to get to their HEA felt like a plot-device deliberately intended to complicate rather than resolve. There’s some kind of short-lived investigation into the psyches of other potential relationships that were setup but left hanging, the continuing story of some weird revenge-plot for a quarter-century-old affair and the fact that every character seemed to vie for attention whether intentionally or not.
By the end of it, I was only marginally interested in the rest of the hanging strings (which, presumably and hopefully, will be tied up in the next installment of the series), though weary to the bone because I just didn’t know what my attention was supposed to be focused on for most of the book.