All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Not Your Average Joe – Nell Carson

on August 18, 2013

Not Your Average JoeNot Your Average Joe
Nell Carson
Harlequin Escape Publishing
2013, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Single mother Jennifer Wright works on the production line at Brickman Foods. The hours are long, the standards high and the manager is difficult but it’s the only job she’s been able to get without completing her college education and having little in the way of family support since she got pregnant with her 6yo son at just 18.

One day as she’s finishing her shift, the manager approaches and introduces her to her latest trainee, Jason Baxter only Jennifer knows that’s not really who he is. He’s Jared Brickman, the son of the owner and CEO, playboy, darling of the tabloids…and the father of her son. Jennifer hasn’t seen him since he humiliated her and he has no idea that his son even exists. Jennifer suspects that Jared is undercover to film an episode of the reality show Average Joe where high placed businessmen work at the base levels of their own companies with no one knowing who they are.

It’s clear that Jared doesn’t even remember her. Jennifer is surprised how quickly he picks up on the job and also his suggestions for making things easier. But the manager knows who Jared is and takes his suggestions on board because of that. Jared doesn’t know what it’s like to be under the constant threat of losing his job if he doesn’t meet targets or shows up late for reasons that cannot be helped. And although Jared does pick things up, Jennifer is insulted by several of his opinions and the fact that he doesn’t remember her and she keeps her information to herself, especially about Chris. Jared has money, lots of it and she doesn’t want to face a situation where he might potentially sue her for full custody. She knows she’d never be able to fight that.

The more time she spends with Jared/Jason, the more the old attraction flares between them even though the tabloids have him engaged to a celebrity heiress who loves the limelight as much as he does. Which of the personas is real? The public heartbreaker with the flashy suits or the man that has been working by her side?

Not Your Average Joe borrows its story line from the TV series Undercover Boss where CEO’s etc of large corporations go undercover to work for the company at the lowest levels, all whilst being filmed. The workers have no idea that their new worker is their boss and often hilarious things are captured on camera and in some instances, the boss has been embarrassed by their inability to do the job. Brickman Foods have a plant in Denver but what the workers don’t know is that there’s a danger the plant will move to Mexico where production costs are cheaper. The CEO, Jared’s father, is getting ready to hand the reins over to his son but Jared doesn’t want them – he thinks his sister would be a far better choice but his father would never accept that as an option.

I think a lot of this book hinges on the character of Jared/Jason and because of that, it fall short of the mark for me. Jared is arrogant and shallow, spouting off his views on single mothers and how they’re all lazy/on welfare/deserve what they get etc from his position of being rich and privileged. He has absolutely no idea about anything, especially what it’s like to work in his own company and although he does learn, if you don’t know something maybe you should shut up about it? I don’t think anyone ever looked at single mothers and went gee, that gig totally looks easy, I should do that for all the mad perks of the job. And of course Jennifer is a single mother, the single mother of his child so that doesn’t particularly endear him to her but she seems to get over his views incredibly quickly.

And then there’s the fact that Jared doesn’t even remember Jennifer whom he slept with and told that he loved her 6 years ago. That’s understandable at the beginning, she has the hairnet etc on and he can’t see much of her face. But even after that, when he sees her properly, he doesn’t remember her. How many people do you need to sleep with in 6 years that you forget one of them even when they’re standing right in front of your face? I know he was in college and shallow but it wasn’t just one drunken hook up, it did happen more than that and it was also the scene of something incredibly humiliating – how do you just forget that? I was baffled.

I liked Jennifer, I liked her friend, a fellow single mother who worked a night shift at Brickman Foods. The two women helped each other out with childcare, allowing them to work alternate shifts. I also liked Jared’s sister and the story line about her being the perfect person to run the company and also caring about the workers and not wanting to move the production plant to Mexico. But I didn’t like Jared and his inconsistent character. He was a debonair playboy who blushed all the time and was quiet and shy. If a character has to tell you all the time how shy and charming another character is, then they’re not really. There’s a good exploration of class bias and I think the factory setting makes a refreshing change but unfortunately, the romance angle really didn’t work for me at all.

5/10

Book #205 of 2013

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2 responses to “Not Your Average Joe – Nell Carson

  1. First of all, I just have to say how much I love all the romances you’ve been reviewing lately, although my wallet certainly doesn’t thank you 😉 To be honest, as disappointed as I was that you didn’t enjoy Not Your Average Joe, I was a little relieved to see that you didn’t as it’s at least one less book I don’t feel compelled to purchase. Hehe.

    On a more serious note, Jared sounds absolutely abhorrent and would spoil what otherwise sounds like it might have been a cute, promising premise. It’s a shame that the romantic lead fell flat as often times a romance hinges entirely on the characters’ individual personality and their chemistry with one another. Simply reading this review left a bad taste in my mouth about Jared and it’s safe to say I’ll avoid this book in the future because of it.

    • Glad you’re finding a few things to like! Sorry about your bank balance though 😉

      You’re right in that with romance, so much hinges on the characters, in particular the male character. I’ve read people that criticise reviewers for saying they didn’t like a book because they couldn’t connect with a character but I think in romance, that connection is almost essential, in particular with the male. The male character so often makes or breaks a good romance story, depending on how the author portrays them. I think it’s a difficult balance and this one fell short of the mark for me.

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