Sunday, March 15, 2015
The Stand-In by Rosanna Leo
Working for Player Magazine is Patrick Lincoln's worst nightmare. A former political journalist, he used to write thoughtful columns for one of Toronto's most respected papers. That is, until he was blackballed for allegedly sleeping with the boss's wife. Overnight, Patrick becomes the city's most reviled bad boy. And now he's forced to write a seedy expose on, of all things, a bridesmaid.
Patrick begrudgingly accompanies Winn to a series of strange weddings. As they are forced to work together, he learns there is more to the stand-in bridesmaid than puffy dresses and pretty speeches. She, in turn, begins to question whether or not Patrick actually deserves the derision of his peers. As much as they fight their attraction, it begins to threaten their work and their sanity.
For so long, Winn has felt second-best. A stand-in. She finally meets a man who believes in her value. But can she let go of the past and accept him?
Where to Buy
Rosanna Leo is best known for her paranormal romances, but with this book she proves (again?) that she can rock a contemporary romance as well. What she gives us here isn't a steaming hot affair involving super sexy preternatural creatures, but the the passionate budding romance of two damaged, but not broken, normal humans who prove that they can be every bit as sexy as their supernatural counterparts. As they work their way through their issues to find a way to come together they learn more about themselves and about each other than they ever thought they would.
Winn is rather down on her luck, struggling to pay her rent while striking out at audition after audition. She is also still reeling from having been left at the altar a year or so ago because she's preferred to avoid dealing with the tumult of emotions that spawned in her instead of working through them. This head-in-the-sand approach creates some potential problems for her when she accepts the position as a stand-in bridesmaid, but she manages alright for awhile, not really having any problems until Patrick starts to follow her around for his article. Her growing attraction to him begins to demand that she face her past and finally deal with all of the emotional fallout from her failed wedding that she has been ignoring for too long.
Patrick is dealing with problems that are more professional than personal, though he has his share of personal problems he largely avoids as well. His current circumstances mean he has little choice but to accept the article assignment his friend offers him despite not liking either the publication his friend runs or the topic he's supposed to write about. He is caught off-guard by his almost instant attraction to Winn, and struggles to keep it under lock-down to maintain at least some modicum of professional behavior. The longer he remains with Winn, however, and the better he gets to know her, the more he finds it difficult to deny his growing feelings for her and the more he find himself having to make some hard decisions and face down some demons of his own in order to clear the way for them to be together.
I really enjoyed this story. Winn and Patrick are both very relateable characters who are dealing with problems that many of us face in our own lives. Their developing romance is heartwarming, but even more so is they way they both begin to come out of their self-imposed cocoons and start to learn to love again. The process is, of course, not without pain and pitfalls, but it's inspiring to watch them work through it and to find the strength within that was always there just waiting for them to call upon it. As they find themselves compelled to stand up for one another against those who would tear them down, so too do they learn how to stand up for themselves and quit playing the victim. Would that we could all manage it as well as they do.
Anyone who enjoys contemporary romances will love this book I think, and perhaps even those who aren't normally drawn to such. Their romance is sweet, but also more than a bit spicy, and the honest emotions of two normal people will surely appeal to a broad range of readers. I give it 4½ stars, rounded up where necessary, for it is certainly worth that benefit of the doubt.