Not Quite Series by Catherine Bybee
Overall Series Rating: 3 (sXe)
Not Quite is a good title for this series. Looking at it as a series it wasn’t entirely there. I enjoyed the first book and third book, but didn’t really like the second and fourth book. I am not sure if there will be more books in the series, and if there are, I will still read them (and update this review later), but I can’t really recommend this series as a whole. If it doesn’t bother you to leave some books out, I would recommend Not Quite Dating and Not Quite Enough. Some of the plot devices were bizarre or trite, and I can’t say there is much in the way of character development. But these are sweet books. One of my favorite things about this author and this series is that while all of the novels have conflict, it isn’t long drawn out conflict. I hate it when there is an issue, the couple fights, and then it reoccurs or gets dragged out into other chapters. In these novels the hero and Heroine have a conflict for most of the novel and then when it is revealed they talk about, deal with it, and move on. It’s a beautiful thing really.
Not Quite Dating (4)
Jessie is a single mom working as a waitress at Denny’s, living with her sister who is a nursing student, who meets Jack one night on his way back from Vegas. Jessie’s mom always told her it’s as easy to fall in love with a rich guy as a poor guy and after her high school boyfriend splits before her son, Danny, is born, Jessie is determined that any guy she dates has a solid, stable future ahead of him. Jack, a millionaire, has had women chasing him for his money all his life and wants to date a girl only interested in him for his personality. He pretends to be a waiter at the hotel his dad owns in order to see if he can get Jessie to date him as a “poor” man. Jessie, afraid to get involved with a guy who won’t stick with her and her son, only wants to be friends with Jack. So Jack pretends that he can help Jessie find a guy who is “rich” and introduce them. Of course Jack’s real motivation is simply to spend time with Jessie so that she likes him enough to overlook his profession.
I enjoy thinking about this problem–to be liked for who you are as opposed to what you do, and the need for stability in a future spouse when one has a child. Both are interesting ideas and I’ve read a few novels with one or the other idea in them, but I don’t think I’ve read a novel where they stand as opposing ideas before. The funny thing the author never really addresses is that a part of who you are is reflected in what you do. It’s hinted at, but never teased out or fully realized. The parent aspect of wanting a man who is a stable provider gives a kind of realism to the trope that women are looking for rich men. I liked Jessie and Jack. Jack seemed sweet and kind, and Jessie seemed to be a good match for him. I loved reading about Monica, but because I read her story first, I was predisposed to like her to begin with. It’s fun to see her about five years before her book is set.
Not Quite Mine (3)
To me, this was a bizzare storyline. Katie, Jack’s sister, comes back from Jack & Jessie’s wedding and finds a baby on her doorstep. She can’t have children for medical reasons, so she is happy to have Savannah left to her, but wants to find the mother to make sure she doesn’t have any second thoughts. Dean is Jack’s best friend and ex-secret lover of Savannah. In Not Quite Dating we saw Dean heartbroken from a broken engagement with Maggie. This was all kinds of red flags for me, so the twist in the novel wasn’t really a surprise to me. But it was weird and seemed very unrealistic. I hate to question realism in a novel, especially a romance novel, but I can’t help it. In any case, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the others. The search for Savannah’s mother took forever and I was waiting for some kind of development. The primary character development was suppose to be centered around Katie becoming more mature, but it wasn’t evident or interesting.
Not Quite Enough (4)
I read this novel first because for some reason I thought I had read one of the earlier novels (this turned out not to be the case at all). It may be that I read an excerpt of it at the end of a different book by the same author, but who knows. I have book deja vu so often that I try to ignore it, but please excuse me if it causes any problems in the future. Anyway, Monica goes to Jamaica with Borderless Nurses about 1.5 years after her training in Florida which happens in Book 2 (Not Quite Mine). There she meets helicopter pilot Trent Fairfield who looks like an island bum, but is actually the rich co-owner of a successful tour company. After working with Trent for a few days that two of them indulge in an affair, but get trapped in a cave during an earthquake. The couple face more tribulations, but ultimately it is their past that presents the biggest obstacle in their relationship.
Monica was a very three dimensional character for me. She is tough, good at her job, dedicated to helping people, but scared of being let down by men. I enjoyed her a lot in this book, but now that I’ve gone back to read the earlier books, it’s almost like she’s a new character–almost. Trent annoyed me a little in that his past trauma was weird. I get the guilt, but not necessarily the fear of being the other man. What I enjoyed about this novel, though, was the dynamic between Monica and Trent. I got them as a couple and enjoyed their interactions.
Dr. Walt Eddy, a friend of Monica’s that we meet in Not Quite Enough, is scarred from his first marriage. But when he meets romance author Dakota Laurens at a conference, he is immediately attracted to her. Although sparks fly with witty comments and button pushing, Walt’s schedule makes it difficult for the pair to connect. Despite that, Dakota is willing to be flexible, yet, she can’t quite tell if Walt is interested in her or using her as a buffer with his parents. When Dakota winds up pregnant, the two must figure out a way forward. Their relationship takes them from New York to California to Georgia as they overcome their insecurities and bring their families together.
While I enjoyed this novel, I hate the use of a surprise pregnancy in a romance novel. This author in particular seems to use this, as it also happens in her Weekday Bride series. It’s not that unplanned pregnancies don’t happen in real life, but it seems like an easy way to move a relationship forward. I liked Walt from the previous novel, but he seemed a bit of a push over in this novel. And Dakota’s character at the beginning of the novel didn’t seem to stay consistent by the end of the novel. And I don’t mean that her character developed over the course of the novel, but instead she seemed to turn into a different person altogether. At the beginning she seemed tough, confident and savvy. By the end she seems insecure and needy. Not my favorite characters of the series.