Unmet needs: "Just What I Needed" by Lorelei James

Book: Just What I Needed by Lorelei James

Release date: August 2, 2016

Pages: 368

Publisher: Signet

Genre/category: Romance, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★★★

Trinity Carlson might be having the worst day ever. And that was before she started drinking in a dive bar, right across from her ex and his new girlfriend. So when she finally decides enough is enough, she grabs hold of a hot, blond stranger and gives him the kiss of his life.

Walker Lund never expected that a chance at love would hit him right on the mouth. Since the moment his brother decided to settle down, Walker has been dodging his family’s hopes that he’ll do the same. He’s never been interested in following in anyone’s footsteps. But when he discovers his sexy assailant has given him a fake name and number he suddenly finds himself in the mood for a little hot pursuit...

This was a cute, low-angst romance that I just didn't love.

I don't often take notes on books for my reviews, but I wanted to pin down what didn't work for me in this. The main issue, I think, is that this is lighter than what I usually go for. Maybe I just prefer my romances to have higher stakes.

But there wasn't a clear conflict in Trinity and Walker's relationship. There were a few instances when I thought, "Oh, that detail is going to come back later and be a big problem for them," but anything that seemed potentially tricky ended up being resolved pretty quickly. Even the promised "hot pursuit" on the back cover ends up being a minor plot point. Instead, we get pretty mundane start-of-relationship complications like busy schedules.

I loved that I could relate to Trinity's "social anxiety blackouts" and how she always said the wrong thing. But I couldn't buy into the notion that her offbeat artistic personality really drove boyfriends away.

And Walker was OK, but his interactions with his male relatives were so cartoonishly bro-ish. Plus, his family's wealth plus his job in construction makes him, I suppose, a "blue-collar billionaire," which, cringe. Why do I keep breaking my no-billionaires rule?

There were also some dubious consent issues. I've been really conscious about consent lately, how we might see some behaviors as obvious violations but others get a pass. Yes, people don't always ask for permission before they kiss someone — although they probably should to make sure they aren't misreading nonverbal cues early on in a relationship. But a stranger in a bar you haven't said two words to can't really give you "Yes, I'd like to be kissed" signals. And there were a few other moments when it felt like the hero or heroine either should have made sure something they did was OK first, or not ignored the other person's protests. Just something that felt a bit off to me.

The other main issue I had was with the point of view. Most of the romances I read are either first person from the heroine's perspective, or third person alternating between the heroine and hero. This was first person alternating, which I think is hard to pull off. I didn't find the dialogue or the narration natural.

The final third of the book was really sweet. So, I can't knock it too much, because I did enjoy it despite my issues. But, I was in a weepy mood when I read this, and the fact it didn't stir any strong emotions even though I was a very easy mark shows it just wasn't what I needed.