Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Two R.L. Matthewson Book Reviews: Playing for Keeps and Perfection

A new favorite self published author of mine R.L. Matthewson. I first heard of R.L. thanks to Jen of Fiction Vixen who reviewed Perfection, the second book in R.L.’s A Neighbor from Hell series. I quickly downloaded that book and the first one, Playing for Keeps that has been on the NY Times best seller list for ebook three weeks in a row now. Playing for Keeps came out in April 2011 and through major buzz and word of mouth, R.L. is getting her due. Also all her books are .99 cents, which is a phenomenal affordable price, especially since her books are full length ones. But that will all change because Playing for Keeps and the rest of her books are increasing to $2.99, which even at that price I would recommend you still buy.

Fiction Vixen had compared R.L. to Shelly Laurenston and I totally agree. If you love Shelly’s books, you will love Playing for Keeps and Perfection. I think Playing for Keep is R.L.’s best book so far since I’m on a major reading glom of all her books. Perfection isn’t as good as Playing for Keeps because I found the hero Trevor to be a major jerky douche of the first order, but I’ll get to him in a moment.

Playing for Keeps is about enemy neighbors turning friends turned lovers. Haley lives in a lovely house in a great neighborhood, but she’s ready to move because of her neighbor of five years, the rude and selfish Jason Bradford. Jason has no consideration for Haley’s property and she’s ready to go off on him. They also work together at the same school but barely talk to one another. Haley is very shy and soft spoken and for most of her life she has allowed others to walk all over her. But enough is enough when Jason ends up tearing out her flowers from her flowerbed. She finally confronts him to hilarious results because they end up angering some bees and they must hide out in her house until the exterminator comes. From this Haley and Jason get to know one another better and have a truce that turns into an interesting friendship of sorts.

Jason is really a nice guy who doesn’t think about his actions. At first he wasn’t impressed by Haley, but as he gets to know her and they hang out, he’s thrilled he has a new buddy. He’s also interested in teaching her new things and having her stand up for herself. He nicknames her his Little Grasshopper and soon he can’t go a day without seeing her. But as they become closer, their relationship changes and they become friends with benefits. Soon Jason and Haley are sleeping with one another but not having sex. The reason they end up sleeping together each night is too funny for words because they can’t fall to sleep without cuddling one another. From this Jason introduces Haley to some excellent make out sessions, but they don’t take that final step. Haley is a virgin and will only have sex with the man she unconditionally loves and wants to spend the rest of her life with. Jason has no clue about this and although he’s falling hard for Haley, he wonders if she’s using him.

Playing for Keeps is hilarious, adorable and beyond sexy. There are many loopy and unrealistic situations that occur here, including how horrible Haley’s family treats her, as well as Jason’s sometimes high handed and alpha tendencies toward Haley. A trademark writing device of R.L.’s is having the hero put down the heroine in his mind. This happens at first and then the hero’s opinion of the heroine slowly changes. Jason is one of the kinder R.L. heroes when it comes to his feelings about the heroine and didn’t grate on my nerves too much. Haley does have a backbone and because of Jason she ends up being a stronger woman.

Playing for Keeps is one contemporary romance I would recommend any romance reader try. There are a few minimal eye rolling moments and in the end I was totally behind Jason and Haley’s HEA.

Final Grade: B

Perfection is the second book in A Neighbor from Hell series showcasing Jason’s cousin Trevor. I disliked Trevor immensely. He’s boorish, selfish and when it comes to the heroine, Zoe, he treats her poorly. Poor Zoe is a former foster child who has no family and ends up losing her job for doing the right thing. She lives in the same building with Trevor, who’s the landlord. It’s only him and her who live there. He’s a horrible neighbor, both greedy and selfish, only thinking of his own needs, and after Zoe gets fired, all she wants to do is eat her pizza she orders. Trevor steals the pizza, because he’s been banned from most restaurants and take out places for some unknown reason. Trevor is scary obsessed with food, and when Zoe confronts him, he says she doesn’t need to eat the pizza, implying she’s fat. Zoe is what you would call a bigger woman weight wise. Trevor then feels guilty for what he has done and offers her a job as his personal housekeeper of sorts and getting her job as his uncle’s secretary.

Things are looking up for Zoe and she decides she wants to have more of a social life and that means dating and sex. When Trevor finds out she’s on the prowl for a man, he volunteers to help her out, although they must keep their relationship a secret because she’s not the right woman for him. The fact that she’s overweight and his friends and work buddies will make fun of him makes Trevor wary in letting anyone know what Zoe means to him. Zoe is fine with the friends with benefits thing and Trevor really makes her happy in bed. He’s a big giver and doesn’t mind her curves at all, even as she starve herself to lose weight, which to her surprise Trevor is angry about. Soon Trevor can’t stop thinking about Zoe and wants much more from her. He decides she must stay with him and make him happy until he tires of her, which may be another few decades or so.

I have a love/hate relationship with Perfection. It’s pretty much the same tone as Playing for Keeps, but Trevor is a major asshat. My dislike for him grew during one scene when his co-workers are making fun of Zoe’s weight and calling her rude names. Trevor allows it because he feels if he comes to her defense, they’ll figure out he has feelings for her and in turn make fun of him. There were many instances where Trevor would put down Zoe in his mind while wanting to have sex with her every which way. Toward the end he was somewhat redeemed, but he’s pretty much selfish until the end. Also the non-stop obsession with food for him and the amount he eats is so over the top and unrealistic. Zoe has very little backbone and I felt so bad for her, even though she has many orgasms thanks to Trevor.

I was at odds with Perfection overall because it was too zany and Trevor is just too selfish and I wanted to chuck him over a cliff. But even with my issues with Trevor, I did enjoy this one but with some reservations

Final Grade: Between a B- or C+ because of my dislike of Trevor and the zaniness that becomes too much.

A few other A Neighbor from Hell series reviews:
Book Minx 
Mayhem Reviews
Swept Away by Romance
Under the Covers


Sophia (FV) said...

I enjoyed Playing for Keeps. The mud fight scene was hilarious.