Sunday, July 27, 2014

6 Heart Review: The Sweet Spot by Stephanie Evanovich

The Sweet Spot
Stephanie Evanovich

Page Count: 272

Release Date: July 8th 2014
Publisher: William Morrow (Harper Collins)
Source: Complimentary ARC provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

A sizzling story of everyone’s favorite couple from amazing Stephanie Evanovich’s New York Times bestseller Big Girl Panties: hunky professional baseball player Chase Walker and his sassy wife Amanda.

When pro baseball player Chase Walker first meets Amanda at her restaurant, it’s love at first sight. While Amanda can’t help noticing the superstar with the Greek-god-build, he doesn’t have a chance of getting to first—or any other—base with her. A successful entrepreneur who’s built her business from scratch, Amanda doesn’t need a Prince Charming to sweep her off her feet. And a curvy girl who likes to cook and eat isn’t interested in being around the catty, stick-thin herd of females chasing Chase and his teammates.

But Chase isn’t about to strike out. A man who isn’t interested in playing the field, he’s a monogamist who wants an independent woman like Amanda. His hopes rally when she discovers that squeaky-clean Chase has a few sexy and very secret pre-game rituals that turn the smart, headstrong businesswoman on—and into his number one fan.

Then a tabloid discovers the truth and turns their spanking good fun into a late-night punchline. Is Amanda ready to let loose and swing for the fences? Or will the pressure of Chase’s stardom force them to call it quits?
"Chase," [Amanda] began steadily, but her voice cracked as soon as she said his name, "you seemed like you really knew what you were doing there."
"I do," he stated, very matter of fact, seemingly engrossed in [his paper], but with the corners of his mouth starting to turn up.
"Like you've done that sort of thing before."
"I have." He grinned, turning the page and scanning it.

"And that if we keep seeing each other, it's something you'll want to do again?"
"I will." He nodded, still grinning.

His two-word, nonchalant answers and perceived lack of interest was starting to completely unnerve her. She hadn't even come out directly to say what she was talking about and he was behaving like they had entered into a pact that only he was privy to.
"What if I don't want you to?"
Chase finally looked up from his paper, his eyes spearing her from across the granite island. "Then you better not be naughty."

The highly anticipated prequel to Stephanie Evanovich's Big Girl Panties, The Sweet Spot is the story of how Chase and Amanda Walker met, fell in love, fell out, and ended up together—detailedly following the fiery couple with very singular tastes that we all know and love from the first book. I was a huge fan of the pair in Big Girl Panties, but was disappointed with them in The Sweet Spot. In BGP, we only had short, sporadic moments with both Chase and Amanda, but whenever we did, they were always funny, always charming, and always erotic. In The Sweet Spot, all of that fades to the background and what we're left with is a rather forceful and obsessed alpha hero, lots of unnecessary angst, and mediocre sex. Evanovich proves in this flashback novel that sometimes, using your imagination to know what goes on behind the scenes is better than actually going behind the scenes yourself.

It wasn't a terrible read, by any means. It isn't outstanding or anywhere near as funny as Big Girl Panties, but it is a simple, predictable boy-meets-girl romance with entertaining banter and a light flavor of kink. Featuring two characters who are feisty in their own way—a dominant, all-American celebrity athlete and a beautiful, fiercely independent restaurant owner—it's rather amusing and a light, airy read, but along those lines, it isn't complex or suspenseful either. The plot progresses very straightforwardly, and there's really no building action or climax; things just happen. Chase and Amanda just do things. There's no real action or development, and that's one of the biggest issues I had with the book.

Obviously, a complication in reviewing this novel is that my opinions are not absolute, but wholly relative. While reading The Sweet Spot, I couldn't help but compare it to Big Girl Panties the entire time—and by compare, I mean bitch to myself about how it wasn't as good as the prior. It just isn't. Evanovich's style is flatter, with lots of telling over showing, and her trademark humor (that I loved in Holly, the protagonist of BGP) just isn't there. I thought the aspect of Chase and Amanda's little bedroom hobby—a little light spanking, nothing explicit—would be sexy at least, but it wasn't. Whatever sexual chemistry that was supposed to be formed between them was completely rushed, and if anything, the "kink" is more of a tongue-in-cheek twist on eroticism; I found it more ridiculous than hot.

Lastly... the one character I couldn't take seriously was the ever-serious Mr. Chase Walker baseball-extraordinaire himself. I know his relentless pursuit of Amanda and over-the-top romantic affections are supposed to show he's the ultimate "alpha male," but they really made him seem corny, pathetic, and REALY CREEPY. –Spoiler alert!– When Amanda initially snubs him, he pretty much stalks her, showing up at her work every day for a few weeks straight, and even getting his security guys to find out where she lives. For a fictional Babe Ruth, he certainly has a lot of time on his hands!! –Spoiler end!– He also has the urge to consistently validate his masculinity by saying things like (verbatim!):
"My ego does not require I have a girlfriend half my size to make me a bigger man. I am already a monster. I do not want or need a woman I can bench-press. I prefer a woman of substance, with softness and curves. One I know is able to handle my passion, one that can nurture my babies."
Babies??????? He's about to bone a girl for the first time and he talks about babies???????!!!


Pros


Quickly paced, easy to get absorbed in // Entertaining banter between Chase and Amanda // Amanda is fun, likable

Cons


Rather disappointing; Chase and Amanda's relationship sounded better in Big Girl Panties than it actually was in The Sweet Spot // Very little character or relationship development // Overall pretty bland; very little excitement, no surprises, no twists // Chase sounds hot, but really annoying; I didn't think very highly of him // Logan is only mentioned once. What the hell is this a prequel for?!?!

Verdict


The Sweet Spot, an account of the coming-together of the fun, flirty couple we first fell in love with in Big Girl Panties, overall was disappointing; it doesn't go in-depth with the relationship that I perceived as sizzling and complicated, and in fact, is rather watery and lacks any plot-forward action. While there are some amusing anecdotes about the celebrity lifestyle, true-to-life struggles with control and trust, and some good 'n' clean spanking (yes, I just said clean! Who knew S&M could be made so proper?), I think I was mainly let down because I expected so much after reading the first book. Stephanie Evanovich's sophomore novel isn't anything grand, but it does serve as a mushy romance between a hunky baseball player and a nice-girl business woman with the tendency to misbehave Americanflag

6 hearts: Decent for a first read, but I'm not going back; this book is decidedly average (whatever that means!) (x)