What a Woman
Author: Judi Fennell
Reviewer: Jen Twimom
After reading how Mary-Alice Catherine Manley, aka Mac, and her grandmother managed to find perfect matches for the three Manley brothers in the previous books of this enjoyable series, this time around it’s Mac’s turn to discover romance and love. As owner of her own cleaning/maid service (Manley Maids), Mac schemed with her grandmother to get her three attractive (and well-known in one case) brothers to work for her company to help promote the Manley Maid name. Now Grandma tells Mac she must clean the house of a dear friend, who happens to be the grandmother of Mac’s childhood crush (and her brother Liam’s BFF), professional baseball player Jared Nolan. Mac will never forget how he teased her in their youth and how on the night of her 17th birthday, made it all too clear he wasn’t interested in her.
Jared is living at his grandmother’s home, recuperating from an accident caused by his ex-girlfriend’s current boyfriend. After he fell for Camille and let her move in to his condo, he found out she was still with her boyfriend and using Jared for fame and fortune. When Mac blusters like a tornado into his life again, Jared realizes the younger sister of his best friend has grown into a remarkable and sexy woman. But he can’t ask out his best friend’s sister… can he?
After witnessing Mac and Grandma push her brothers in the right direction to find love, I was excited to see how Mac would get her HEA, and I was mostly pleased with her story. As in the previous books, there is some overlap with scenes from and references made in the first three titles; however, What a Woman can be easily enjoyed as a standalone story. Mac and Jared share a history from childhood and watching the pair work through past perceptions and hang ups was rewarding.
Right from the start, Mac and Jared sizzle together. For Mac, time has only added to the teenage crush she felt for Jared, one that she would rather forget. But for Jared, he’s seeing Mac anew, and the more time he spends with her, the more he realizes what a woman she truly is. Reading the romance from the alternating POVs of Jared and Mac, I was able to fully understand how much each enjoyed being around the other regardless of their outward actions.
The pair fall back on childhood teasing and ribbing as a comfortable means to hide their adult feelings, making this a slow-building romance. While the speed could have been off-putting, the author uses that time to allow real emotional growth, giving her characters time to come to terms with the past so they can move forward. Generally, I really enjoyed the character development and didn’t mind the slower pace; however, having both individuals constantly trying to mentally talk themselves out of his/her growing feelings and rationalize why they wouldn’t work as a couple did go on a bit too long.
There were a few things in the book that had both good and not-so-good sides to their storylines. For example, Mac discovers a family of motherless kittens that require constant care. I enjoyed the silliness that the kittens created, as well as how they allowed readers to see a compassionate side of Jared. Yet, I was really put off at how Jared used the kittens as a means to an end later in the book. Additionally, while I loved how Jared charmed Mac, I didn’t care for how he got her into his bed, and because of that, once the pair got together I found that their chemistry wasn’t as hot as it was during earlier parts of the book. There is also a side story about Jared’s parents that felt like forced drama for the sake of having drama.
Overall, I enjoyed What a Woman, but parts of the story fell a little flat for me. Whether I was overly excited to read the book, expecting too much, or it just wasn’t on par with its predecessors, I found the book didn’t leave me with the warm fuzzies like early books in the series did. I really enjoyed how the author created honest emotional growth in both characters and gave them time to work out their feelings, but I needed more action in between. The kittens were a cute addition, but how Jared used them later in the book was upsetting. I liked how Jared finally woo’d Mac but again, he does something that left me uncomfortable. And while What a Woman was a solid and entertaining wrap-up for the Manley siblings, I was disappointed the epilogue was about someone else (set-up for a future book?). Overall the Manley Maid series is a wonderful, light-hearted contemporary series, and even thought I didn’t find What a Woman to be my favorite of the bunch, I still whole-heartedly recommend it to fans of the genre.
Now that Mary-Alice Catherine Manley—Mac—has her hunky brothers working for her, she can sit back and watch the business roll in. But her new assignment quickly tosses that plan out the window. Mildred, her grandmother’s best friend, needs her house cleaned and Gran has volunteered Mac for the job. The problem is Mildred’s cocky grandson. He thinks Mac’s at his beck and call, but she has a few things to tell him…aside from how hot he is.
Jared Nolan is currently lying low, nursing some broken bones—and a bruised ego. The former professional baseball player let himself be used by woman once, and now it could rob him of his beloved career. No woman is ever going to call the shots again, which is why, when the bossy Mac shows up, he’s going to show her who’s really in charge. He’s just not prepared for the undeniable attraction between them. And with the two of them in one house, there’s no telling who will come out swinging…
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Series: Manley Maids #4
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format(s): paperback (320 pages), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley
What a Woman (Manley Maids #4)