My last review is for The Other Side of Us by Sarah Mayberry. I feel a bit bad about this one because I requested from Netgalley back in December and actually read it in December. My plan was to review it for its publishing date, like all the other Netgalley's requests I did... but we all know how real life tends to get in the way ^_^; Even though it's two months late, I can still say that I've held up my end of the bargain, so that's something at least :)
Disclaimer: I've received The Other Side of Us as an eARC from Netgalley
published by Harlequin (SuperRomance) in January 2013
The best thing between Oliver Barrett and Mackenzie Williams is a fence. Ever since Oliver's new-neighbor gestures were met with unfriendly responses, he's decided to keep his distance. After all, he's in this seaside town to get his life on track again. That doesn't include working hard to get on Mackenzie's good side—no matter how intriguing she may be. His intentions are put to the test, however, when his dog becomes infatuated with hers. The two crafty canines do their best to break down the barriers between the properties. And where the dogs go , well, the humans must follow! It doesn't take long for a powerful attraction to build between Oliver and Mackenzie. They soon discover that the worst of first impressions can lead to the best possible outcomes .Genre: Category romance, contemporary romance
The Story: Oliver Barrett is going through a divorce after discovering that his wife has been cheating with her ex for almost the whole length of their marriage. Still harboring a lot of anger at the betrayal, Oliver decides he needs a break and heads to Flinders where he and his brother have inherited a house from their aunt. He plans to use his time off to clean the house and make it ready to put on the market. As he's been raised right, the first thing Oliver does after settling down is to introduce himself to his neighbor. What he finds is an incredibly rude woman with a dog who, to Oliver's displeasure, seems to have the hots for his 8-months old puppy, Strudel.
Mackenzie Williams knows she was incredibly rude to her new neighbor, but unfortunately for him, he caught her at the wrong time. Mackenzie is the TV producer of a very popular Australian soap opera and she lives for her job. A year ago, she was in in a very bad car accident and didn't survive it unscathed. She was lucky to get a sick leave from her job, but now, time is running out and she faces the real possibility of losing her job. So the last few months, she's been in Flinders focusing her energy on completing her physical therapy and getting back into shape.
Eventually, Oliver and Mackenzie get over their first meeting and impressions... and the more time they spend together, the more they enjoy each other's company. However, is either ready for something more?
My Opinion: Ms Mayberry has become one of my go-to authors when I'm in the mood for category romance. As a result, I always have an eye out for the reviews of her new releases because I know that sooner or later, I'm going to get to it :) Opinions for The Other Side of Us seemed to be mixed: some loved it and others, not as much. I really hoped to be part of the first group, but unfortunately, I fell in the latter :(
First, I want to state that Ms Mayberry's writing is as solid as ever in The Other Side of Us. That wasn't the issue here. What was was my lack of connection with the H/H, Oliver and Mackenzie. Oh, they were nice people, each with a lot of baggage, but they didn't reach me. I was sympathetic to their situations - the betrayal, the accident - but not to the characters themselves. Does that make any sense? To a certain extent, I think it's because of the strength of their personalities. They just seem so independent, individualist and focus on their baggage... Especially Mackenzie. It's hard to believe she went through all what she did without anyone by her side to give her support. I know she was hurt when her ex-husband with whom she had developed a friend-with-benefits relationship deserted her when she needed him most. And perhaps that's why she isolated herself... But that isolation, well she chose it. I think it would have helped to show us different sides of Oliver and Mackenzie if there had been secondary characters around. I don't mean a secondary romance or even baiting, but just interactions with other people.
My other issue with The Other Side of Us was with the romance, mainly the timing. I understand that there are no right moments to fall in love... but I feel there are wrong ones to start a relationship. And that's where Oliver and Mackenzie were. I felt the timing was wrong for Oliver, not because he was going through a divorce, but because there was still so much anger in him. The anger was warranted, no argument there, but was it a great state in mind to start something with Mackenzie? Was it really fair for her? I don't think so and I think that part where Mackenzie's ex-husband entered the picture was the perfect example. As for Mackenzie, I just felt like she had so much on her plate. When Mackenzie first met Oliver, the reason she was so rude was because she had just finished exercising and had pushed too hard. She slammed the door in Oliver's face so she could rush to the bathroom to puke. That scene was quite poignant, it said a lot about Mackenzie in my opinion, but more importantly, it showed that she was very far away from being 100% back. Half-way through the book, it seemed that Mackenzie's physical condition was forgotten and barely alluded to. And quite frankly, I'm not sure how much Mackenzie could have and enjoy sex in her condition. I wish that in both instances, we had seen more of their healing processes. For me, it would have made the romance more believable and better.
So yes, I had issues with The Other Side of Us, but it was still a pretty solid book. As contradictory as it may sound, I liked that the story was focused on Oliver and Mackenzie and their relationship. Have I not had a problem with the timing, this would be exactly the kind of romance I'd enjoy where the hero and heroine spend time together, get to know each other and fall in love :) Also, I have to agree with everyone, the dogs were adorable LOL.
My Grade: C.