So, how was everyone's week-end? I know it was a long week-end for many of you. Lucky :) (Ok, so I got my long week-end last week... so? It's already been too long!)
This is going to be my entry for Brie's Contemporary Romance Challenge :) Surprisingly, lately, I've been reading a lot more historicals than contemporary, so I'm happy I made it this month :)
Under Her Skin by Susan Mallery
published by Mira in May 2009
Lexi Titan can just see the headlines. All of Titanville will be buzzing. Not that she has any other choice. Faced with exactly thirty days to come up with two million dollars, she is out of options. Marry Cruz Rodriguez or lose everything—the successful day spa she built herself, her tyrant of a father's respect. And the long-standing competition with her sisters for the family business.Genre: Contemporary romance
Cruz has money, success, smoldering good looks — everything but the blue blood needed to become a true member of Texas society. If Lexi agrees to be his fiancée for six months, lending him her famous father's influence and connections, he'll hand her a check on the spot. And in six months they'll go their separate ways.
But neither one is prepared for their long-ago shared passion to throw a wrench into what would seem to be the perfect deal...
Series: Lone Star Sisters series, Book #1
The Story: I thought the back blurb was a little bit misleading... From it, I imagined that the three sisters - Lexi, Skye and Izzy - had a bad relationship, but it wasn't really the case. The competition is kind of recent, about two to three years and although their relationship isn't as carefree as it used to be, it's not as if they were mortal enemies either. Basically, their father, Jed Titan, told them that he would leave everything to only one of them. Izzy was not interested in inheriting while Lexi wanted the business and Skye, the house, but since only one can inherited, Lexi and Skye are left to battle it out. Lexi used to work for her father, but she realized that she would never prove herself to him if she stayed and as a result, opened her own spa business... because she wanted to expand her business as quickly as possible, Lexi accepted a loan from a secret investor... who turns out to be a half-brother she never knew existed and who is bent on destroying all of the Titans. He has called in the debt and Lexi has only 30 days to come up with 2 millions dollars.
Lexi is in a pinch and does not really know what to do. If she goes to her father, she will lose the competition for sure. At that moment, Cruz Rodriguez, her first lover, shows up and offers her a deal: if they fake an engagement for 6 months, he'll give her 2 millions dollars. Basically, Cruz is a self-made man... Unfortunately, in a world where good breeding is still regarded highly, Cruz is still on the outs and needs someone with connections... nobody has better connections than the Titans... and since Cruz and Lexi share a past...
My Opinion: Under Her Skin is the first book in the new series of 4 books (although there is a prequel available only on Kindle, but I'm not too interested in it) and was definitively a better start to a series than Sweet Talk. Unfortunately, it also reminded me a lot of the Marcelli series as well... the whole three sisters with a brother they never knew about (okay, the Marcellis were actually composed of 4 girls, but Mia didn't really come into play till much later). In the end, I thought the book was okay.
So the whole plot is nothing new, basically two persons making a deal to fake an engagement... and in the end, falling in love. I thought the fact that Lexi and Cruz knew each other prior this encounter didn't have much of an impact. Basically, they had a one-night stand - Cruz being Lexi's first lover... The sex was great, Lexi was planning a relationship and Cruz crushed her feelings.
For the engagement, Lexi demands him to be faithful while they are engaged and Cruz, well he demands sex from her. I have to say, Lexi going off the pill to have her period to avoid sex with Cruz?!? That's probably the stupidiest idea she had for a smart and savvy woman. I mean, seriously?!? And you can easily guess what happens right?
The characters were okay, a bit one-dimensional and stereotypical. I don't know, I think I expected Lexi to be tougher, but she was quite vulnerable ^_^; Not that it's bad, but it just didn't fit her image. As for Cruz, well hmmmm, he was okay. See, the thing is, I really didn't connect with Lexi nor Cruz and I didn't find them very interesting. They're both giving some "circumstances" to explain their action and that's getting very typical and reptitive. Why can't they just be normal people. In the end, I really wasn't impressed by Lexi or Cruz, especially Cruz. The fact that he almost abandonned his daughter, that really didn't reflect well on him. If at least, he had some excuses - they live in a different city/state, but the truth is he just doesn't want to be involved with her. It's not someone you want to root for, really.
So typical plot, un-interesting character... What saved the book? Ms Mallery solid writing. If you've enjoyed her writing previously, I don't see any problems in this one. The interactions between the three sisters and their best friend, Dana. I really liked Dana and Izzy's characters :) and I'm looking forward to their books (I bet that Dana is going to be paired up with the evil half-brother, Garth).
Have to say, Izzy storyline sounds interesting, so I'll definitively pick up that one... but Skye, not really interested. She comes across as weak to me, letting her father chooses her husband for her. What really bothered me is that these women are all adults now and they still let their father, who is really a tyrant, shape their lives. I understand that they want his unconditional love, but at their age, it's time that they open their eyes. They have loyal friends, good sisters... draw love and strength from those relationship instead. So yes, definitively picking up Izzy's book that's coming out in July and I'm crossing my fingers for Dana to be with Garth.
My Grade: C. An okay read, good to pass time.