Title: (Timing #1)
Author: Mary Calmes
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.
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.
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).
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.