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Nothing Like Paris
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"I am totally in love with Amy Jo's characters. They are imperfect. And real. They hide and blaze. They strut and cry." ~ My Fiction Nook
"I adore the way this author writes dialogue between characters. She digs deep and doesn't let them off the hook. You think everything is going ok and then she peels back another layer. They yell, they talk, they push back, they love." ~ For What It's Worth Reviews
About the Author
Amy Jo Cousins writes contemporary romance and erotica about smart people finding their own best kind of smexy. She lives in Chicago with her son, where she tweets too much, sometimes runs really far, and waits for the Cubs to win the World Series again. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Jack’s parents lost a lot of money because of Tom’s father’s criminal actions. Jack lost his whole college fund, including a semester abroad in Paris. Then, because of his bullying, he got kicked out of school. The story opens as Jack gets dropped off in his small home town, bitter, angry, and hopeless.
Mike/Miguel was Jack’s best friend and boyfriend in high school. Jack left for college, though, and Mike stayed behind to work on his family’s farm. Now he runs a Farm to Table cafe on Main Street. Mike has a lot of feelings about Jack. He’s mostly pissed that Jack left him, and he also kind of hates Jack for being a stubborn, selfish jerk.
Jack needs a job, and someplace to go so that he doesn’t sit around the house with his alcoholic mother all day. He plays the banjo (how’s that for a quirk?), so Mike hires him to play in the cafe in the afternoons, mainly while high school students hang out and drink coffee.
Mike and Jack spend a lot of time being angry at themselves and each other. It’s hard for them to establish just a friendship, since Mike assumes that Jack will leave him behind again, and Jack is indeed a selfish jerk who doesn’t communicate well with others.
I have to admit that I didn’t like Jack for most of the book. I just couldn’t ignore his behavior from the last book, or blame it on his mother, or see him as some tortured hero. I read this the day after the other book, so his actions were fresh in my mind. I read all the stuff that made Jack the way he was, and it still wasn’t an excuse for me. The book was 76% in when Jack realized that he had been a bully. Better late than never.
In comparison, Mike was almost a boring character. He’s loyal to his family, and a responsible business owner. He looks out for his single-mother employee, and likes giving the high schoolers a safe space. He doesn’t make waves in the small community. He knows that Jack needs him, and he lets himself be used, even though it’s not a great relationship dynamic.
Jack and Mike do not have an easy road to happily ever after. Mike is full of resentment and Jack is full of himself. They kiss angrily. With all that, the author does manage to smooth things out at the end. I believed that Jack realized his mistakes and wanted to change, and I enjoyed reading about him once he let go of his emotional baggage. I also appreciate that he shaved his mustache.
I wonder if I would have liked Jack better if I hadn’t read the other book first? If you like reunited lovers and a messed up hero, try reading this book first, maybe it will be easier for you. As for me, I couldn’t get on board until later.
This review was originally posted on Red Hot Books at: [...]
The story was great though. I didn't dislike Jake in Off Campus, because even if he was the nemesis it was clear there was more to him than that, and reading his story afterward was great. Gave a new dimension to both books honestly. I love that Amy Jo Cousins characters are always grey and multifaceted. They screw up, they take bad decisions and they struggle but at heart, they're good people who just got lost along the way.
Even Miguel/Mike, who appear to be composed and sure of himself in the beginning is more than that. He's not just a responsible business owner with a big family. They aren't as obvious but he has his own fears and struggles and it was great to explore them in comparison to Jake's.
Even the conflict and their relationship is grey and depends on the PoV. They see things differently, they understand their situation differently which is very realistic and makes for a compelling read. Miguel thinks Jakes left him behind, Jake thinks Miguel gave up on them and they're both right which makes for a good story and one we get invested in.
And I liked the whole thing with Jake's mom, because that resonates with me. In books, we usually get the violent alcoholic parent, but I had never read about the quiet one. The insidious type. The one you can't really talk about because people don't understand how difficult it is to live with that kind of parent. The whole situation was well portrayed.
In the end, that was a very good book and I'll for sure continue with the series. I just wish the sex scenes had been better. I recommand reading in tandem with Off Campus though, because it adds a very interesting layer to both