Searching for Disaster by Jennifer Probst

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by HeatherT. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Short Contemporary Romance category.

The summary:

When Isabella MacKenzie tries to move on from her disastrous past, Officer William Devine is determined to show her that love is the only way to heal. This sexy enovella, the final installment in Jennifer Probst’s heartwarming Searching For series, follows the high-powered women of the popular matchmaking agency Kinnections, located in the small, picturesque town of Verily, NY.

Here is HeatherT’s review:

As I read Searching for Disaster, my thoughts about how the review would go changed dramatically.

When I started, I thought that I would like the book a lot. The Prologue was well-written and set up the story well. Isabella (Izzy) MacKenzie is prowling a bar and she chooses the man she wants. She is confident, independent and strong. She picks up her chosen man, they go to her room and talk and then Do That Very Thing. The banter is lively and intelligent and amusing. We learn that his name is Liam. They do the thang, then a friend of hers comes by and drops off some drugs. Liam is upset and tells her that if she chooses the drugs, then he is out. She chooses the drugs, he leaves. Excellent beginning.

We pick up the story six years later. Izzy is now a recovering addict, having been clean for two years. She is a receptionist at a matchmaking agency – it is clear that the women who she works with have been the subject of earlier books because every time we meet someone new there has to be a reference to their romantic partner and how happy everyone is and how love is a cure for all that ails one – blah, blah, blah. The gang decides that Izzy needs a man and they decide to set her up. She is still hung up on Liam and his magic peen, and she spends a lot of time being angsty about that, even though it was one night six years ago. I am sure that you will all be shocked, SHOCKED, I say, to learn that the man that the gang has in mind for her, the man they call “Devine” is Liam. Liam Devine. Liam is a cop, and is single because for six whole years the only woman he can think about is Izzy and her magic hoo hoo.

At this point in the book, I became keenly aware that I am a snob. I don’t think that one needs a love interest to be complete. I do not think that purple glitter eyeshadow is classy. Ewoks are not cute, they are cutesy – there’s a difference. So I found the following exchange grating:

His brow shot up. “Why aren’t you using chopsticks?”

“Cause I suck at them. Like dancing. I have a problem with coordination.”

“Not in every activity.”

She shot him a suspicious look for the innuendo, but he looked innocent enough. Damn, he was whip smart.

Making an obvious sexual innuendo qualifies someone as “whip smart?” It wasn’t that this part of the book was bad per se, it’s just that it was becoming clear that I was not the right audience. I was judging.

Then the book started to actively annoy me by resorting to semi-offensive sexist clichés. Look, a man who likes puppies is not a “pussy” and need not feel bad about liking puppies. If we’re looking for a description of a man who likes puppies, I could go with “normal,” “decent” or “not a sociopath.”

Then after a female puppy barfs on Liam’s shirt, she gives “him the famous look all females did when they were in trouble.” Really – what look is that, that “all” females give, pray tell?

At that point I was well and truly irritated, but then the thing happened that put this book into “D” territory for me. Izzy is angry with Liam (about something contrived and stupid, but within the story she is genuinely pissed). She confronts him, and his response is to grab her hair and yank her head back. She bites him and tells him to “get out.”

She knew it was an order he’d never obey. He also knew she didn’t want him to, so he tightened his grip on her hair.

Oh, really, how does he know that she didn’t mean it? There’s nothing in the narrative where she conveys that critical information to him.

“I’m going to do two things now, Isabella, and there’s not a damn thing you can do to stop me.” In one move, he ripped open her shirt, popping buttons everywhere. . . .”I’m going to fuck you till you’re not mad anymore. Then I’m going to hold you until you know I’m not going anywhere.”

Nope to the nope. “Fucking the mad away” is not a thing. Look, I like a good hatefuck as much as anyone else, but a hatefuck has to be a two-way street. There is a different name for a hatefuck that is only one way, and it ain’t pretty or sensual or proof of love.

At that point I was tempted to DNF this thing, but I was almost finished, so I soldiered on to the predictable and unsatisfying end. The tension between the characters is that Izzy, with her past as an addict, doesn’t think that she deserves to be with Liam, who is portrayed as perfect (other than the rapey thing, which Izzy sees as “strong”). He only wants to be with her, apparently because of her magic hoo hoo. Izzy angsts a lot about not being good enough for Liam, leaves him, has a talk with her dad, and then decides that it is okay for her to be with Liam after all. The tension couldn’t slice through warm butter, and the story limps to an HEA for all the couples and their dogs. I was just glad to be done.

This book is available from:
Searching for Disaster by Jennifer Probst

October 10, 2016

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