Timing (Timing #1)

Title: Timing (Timing #1) Second Edition
Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Novel (230 pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn

One Sentence Review: In spite of some niggles, I found myself really liking this book in a can’t-put-it-down kinda way.

THE BLURB

Stefan Joss just can’t win. Not only does he have to go to Texas in the middle of summer to be the man of honor in his best friend Charlotte’s wedding, but he’s expected to negotiate a million-dollar business deal at the same time. Worst of all, he’s thrown for a loop when he arrives to see the one man Charlotte promised wouldn’t be there: her brother, Rand Holloway.

Stefan and Rand have been mortal enemies since the day they met, so Stefan is shocked when a temporary cease-fire sees the usual hostility replaced by instant chemistry. Though leery of the unexpected feelings, Stefan is swayed by a sincere revelation from Rand, and he decides to give Rand a chance.

But their budding romance is threatened when Stefan’s business deal goes wrong: the owner of the last ranch he needs to secure for the company is murdered. Stefan’s in for the surprise of his life as he finds himself in danger as well.

THE REVIEW

Timing is the first story by his author that I’ve read, and despite some issues I had, I did like it very much, finding myself rating it higher than I probably would have had it been a different book. In fact, based on the less-favorable parts of this review, one would think — including me! — that I disliked it, but I didn’t.

Stefan met Charlotte in college when the admissions office screwed up and put the freshmen in the same room. Instant BFFs, they have been pretty much inseparable since. The only problem is Rand, Charlotte’s beautiful older brother.  The first time they met, Rand insulted Stef, kicking off ten years of hostility on both sides. Now Charlotte is getting married and has promised that her “homophobic, cowboy, shitkicker, redneck, small-minded, small-town, prejudiced piece of crap” brother would not be there, yet when he arrives in Texas to perform his Man-of-Honor duties, there is Rand looking all surly and overwhelmingly gorgeous. Amazingly and bizarrely wanting to call a truce for the long wedding weekend, Rand further blows Stef’s mind by making other overtures as well. Is there any way these two can set aside a decade of animosity to try and make a go of it? In the meantime, and since he was going to be in the area, Stefan is asked to make it a working weekend by trying to convince a rancher to sell her land to disastrous ends, putting himself unwittingly in harm’s way.

This is going to be a kinda schizophrenic review because here’s the thing: I should have not liked this book because of all of the reasons I will go into, but I did. I found it well-written, a light read that was funny and sweet, with generally likable, colorful — albeit at times clichéd and stereotypical — characters and, while it was a bit predictable and there are a few suspend your disbelief moments, a credible Gay For You plot. I bought the reasons for Rand’s actions over the years, as well as Stefan’s confusion over Rand’s out-of-character actions and words, and the quick pace of how our heroes got together (seeing as they’ve known each other for a decade). Stef and Rand have obvious chemistry; I mean, there’s a thin line and all that, right? I liked watching Stef grow from being someone fiercely independent and who wouldn’t give his heart to anyone into someone who can learn to depend on others and love. It worked for me.

So, in saying all that, I did have some issues with it:

First, I didn’t understand how no one saw or, if they did, acknowledged the difference in how Stefan and Rand were interacting. It was incredibly obvious there was a big change. These two could not stand to be in the same room with one another for the last ten years without going at each other — and not in a good way — much less sit very close to one another and talk nice. Rand was being not only polite and pleasant to Stef — and vice versa — but touching him as well, whispering in his ear and smiling. Without giving spoilers,  it seemed odd to me that nobody called them on it while it was happening, especially early on, even teasingly.

Second, Stefan is seemingly damn-near perfect — looks, charm, professional success, a hero in many ways — which felt very Gary-Sue-ish to me. Everyone loves him on sight. Everyone wants to touch him. He’s so magnetic that even straight men look lustfully at him. The women are sad he’s gay, and the men envy him and want to be him. Parents adore him. He is beautiful and is just this shy of the border of conceited; he can make others swoon with an arch of an eyebrow or a wide smile and he knows it:

…using the full weight of my arsenal, my voice and my face. Having been told constantly from a very young age that I was gorgeous, I knew I was. The blond hair, dark green eyes, and the permanent tan that I had been born with, all of it blended together made people stop and watch me walk by on the street. I took no credit for any of it—it was just genetics, after all—but I used it to my advantage when I had to…

He’s great in bed. He can fight and routinely saves the day and the people around him. He can practically do no wrong. What saved it for me was a) he is very sweet, and b) his one flaw: when it comes to men, he can be cold and disappears when the guy becomes clingy or talks commitment.

Next, Charlotte’s clinging — figuratively and literally — got a bit on my nerves. More often than not she is wrapped around either Stefan or Ben, her fiancé. She jumps into their arms and wraps herself around them. I’d love to know what she is like physically since she is always jumping at them, them catching her with ease. And related to this, these people touch more than any other I know or have read about: hugs; hands on faces, in hair, on shoulders; rubbing backs, stomachs and up and down necks; kissing foreheads; faces snuggled into neck crooks; laying and snuggling in laps.  Any where, any time. And this not just our protags, it’s most everyone to most everyone. Seriously, it’s like they can’t keep their hands off one another.

Lastly, I felt the “suspense” part of the tale — Stefan and the rancher lady murder mystery — could have easily been left out and the story would have not suffered at all. Oh, and a warning: there is reference to a past violent and traumatic attack, though little detail is told. If that kind of thing bothers you, you should skip over it (you’ll know it’s coming when it does).

OVERALL

In spite of the issues I had, I found myself really liking this story. I recommend it to anyone looking for a light, fun read.

Timing Series

15 comments

  • I also felt Stefan was a little too perfect and Charlotte was over-the-top in her clinginess and bridezillaness, BUT . . . it was awesome and otherwise very well-written, and I mostly couldn’t put it down. 🙂 4 to 4.5 stars for me.

    Calmes had some great humour in there, and not all authors can pull it off. The calf stuff, esp. towards the end, stuck in my head…. 😉

  • Hi,
    I enjoyed your review of Timing and I loved the book also. I’m a big fan of Mary Calmes and the Matter of Time series was my introduction to her work. Like Sherry F I love the series.
    Even though I agree with a lot that’s been said, don’t let this discourage you from reading her book A CHANGE OF HEART from DSP. IMHO this is her best book to date, and I love Anne Cain’s cover for the book; everything seems to fit and work so much better in this book.
    Regards.

    • Good evening Beth and thanks for stopping by. It’s always great when fans of an author speak up and encourage us to look further into backlists. It’s wonderful that you really loved Change of Heart, though I admit that I won’t be picking it up as there are a few genres I don’t read, creature features being one of them. If it had not been, I would definitely consider it.

  • I’m one of the ones who LOVED the “Matter of Time” series and “Change of Heart”. This one I had more difficulty getting into because, as LadyM stated, Stefan was simply an even more charming, engaging, grope-able, slutty version of Jory – not that there’s anything *wrong* with that! :-). And his magic ability to get any and everyone to his side???!!!!……..oh, come on!

    I liked it but didn’t love it.

    • Hi Sherry. I agree with you on Stefan and his perfectness, but even so, while I didn’t love it either, I did like it a lot. Maybe it was one of those right-time/right place books for me and I was open to looking past the flaws I felt were present. And compared to some of the books I’ve read recently, it was a step above in at least the writing skill.

      Based on reviews and discussions I’ve found, it seems that if Calmes could get past the prefect/gorgeous/magnetic/touchable protag(s), I think she’s win over more readers. It appears to be the biggest complaint folks have with her writing.

  • First of all, thanks for the review. I have very mixed feelings for this author, after having read her “A Matter of Time” series. I haven’t picked up anything else from her. I can tell from your review here that some of the issues I had with that series are still there: the near-perfect, everyone loves him main protag, the semi-cooked suspense plot etc.

    However, similar to what you said for this book – I did like the first book of “A Matter of Time”…. I kind of feel that this author tends to get repetitive as the story gets longer – so maybe this one-shot novel is “short” enough to keep me entertained 🙂

    • Hi Eve, and thanks for stopping by. If you liked the first A Matter of Time book some, perhaps you’d like this one. Or maybe not? 🙂

  • Lynn
    What I should have said was that “in A Matter of Time they are inconsistent” since I haven’t read Timing. Sorry about that.

    The editorial issues are a direct result of the fact that this is a new publisher and they probably don’t have the resources to do a good editing job on the series.

  • Hi Lynn

    Mary Calmes still has to prove to me that she can write a book without characters who are so beautiful that everyone just wants them in their lives forever and can’t bear to let them go, EVAH. I have not read Timing but based on your review, there’s an eerie similarity to a series that this author wrote for another publisher.

    I have just reviewed 3 books in this series which is called A Matter of Time. I have to finish the last book and I’m afraid to do so because my opinion of them has been going downhill since Book I which I rated as 4.5 stars. Yet this series has legions of fans but if you read my reviews you’ll understand why I loved the first book but had major difficulties with books II and III. The reason I don’t want to tackle Book IV is I think I might be horribly let down after spending so much time on this series which totals 230K (750 pages), and also because I don’t want to disappoint the fans. One fan even asked me not to put other readers off the series because she loves it so much, despite some problems which she acknowledges.

    My assessment of this writer is that her characters are always too gorgeous to be true, they are inconsistent, and they grate on your nerves. Here’s what I said about the first book which is so far the only one I loved

    >>You will love these books if you don’t have a problem with a protagonist who is flighty, is easily distracted and loses focus frequently, has had many one night stands before he and Sam hooked up, and sometimes there are so many characters whenever Jory is around, your head will spin. < < LadyM and I share the same views about A Matter of Time but we're probably the only ones since two other reviews that I checked were glowing . 🙂 Maybe I need my head examined.

    • …characters who are so beautiful that everyone just wants them in their lives forever and can’t bear to let them go, EVAH.

      You nailed it. There is a scene where Charlotte literally screams and yells and cries over the possibility of Stef doing his disappearing act on her. After she had jumped into his arms and cling like a vine.

      My assessment of this writer is that her characters are always too gorgeous to be true, they are inconsistent, and they grate on your nerves.

      At least part of your statement is true here, for me anyway. Both protags are so beautiful they stop traffic and other peeps can’t keep their hands off them. I thought, for the most part, they acted fairly consistently (I bought Rand’s change from grumpy and unsmiling scary guy to lovable bear for Stef here), but yeah, some of them definitely got on my nerves.

      I probably won’t pick up the A Matter of Time series based on several factors, including the reviews that, although are decent/glowing, go on and on about them being editing disasters. I can’t stand that. There’s no excuse. Get your friends to beta if you/your pub can’t afford to hire an editor. Luckily, Timing got DSP, and they’re pretty good about that sort of thing.

      I would be interested in reading more from this author because I think she has some talent, however I would be sure to be looking for Gary-Sues and other issues that seem to crop up pretty continually in her books.

  • I had the same issues, but they were so distracting that I had trouble finishing the book. Stefan was another Jory (from A Matter of Time series), only more perfect. Touchy-feely characters made me roll my eyes and Charlotte was actually scary a few times. I knew who the bad guy was immediately.

    I remember a few funny moments & some scenes between Stefan and Rand were hot, but, all in all, it seems this author is definitely not my thing. I still liked this book more than A Matter of Time series which by the end made me regret the lost time I’ll never get back. I read Timing first, so that must be a reason why I liked it more. If the author just toned down everything (Stefan’s perfection, people’s reactions to him, etc.), it could have been a decent book.

    • Hi LadyM.

      I figured that some readers would not be as…accepting of the niggles as I was. I’ve not read anything else by Calmes, so I don’t have anything to compare it with. That being said, I did look up both other reviews for this book and reviews for her previous works and saw that readers have had issues in varying degrees with what you talk about and what I noticed. It seems to be a theme with her and I wonder if she will take away that readers don’t like Gary-Sues or extremes. And I, too, figured out who the bad guy was pretty immediately.

  • I agree completely Lynn. I just read it on the weekend and had all the same issues. I shouldn’t have liked it as much as I did, but it’s a fun read. I too though the mystery could have been cut with no problem and I rolled my eyes a few times at how people reacted to Stef (really, would I walk up to my friends best friend and start putting my hands under his shirt and rubbing his abs – total stranger, gay or not? LOL) but the fact that emotionally he wasn’t perfect I think helped even it out. The bride was a bit of an annoyance (stressed out Bridezillas and I don’t mesh) but as you said, despite all that I enjoyed it. Go figure. 🙂

    • Good morning Tam.

      I rolled my eyes a few times at how people reacted to Stef (really, would I walk up to my friends best friend and start putting my hands under his shirt and rubbing his abs – total stranger, gay or not? LOL

      And run my hands through their hair and along their face and practically down their pants!

      There were hands in my hair, under the back of my shirt, on my chest, my biceps, and Kristin’s fingers sliding over my eyebrows. I was drowning in women.

      And yeah, Charlotte being a Bridezilla is part of the cliché/stereotype and predictability I was talking about.

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