by Sean D. Young
Series: McClendon Holiday #4
Also in this series: A Husband by New Year's
Publisher: Entangled: Bliss
Publication Date: January 15, 2018
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Patrice McClendon wants to create a signature scent for her family's aromatherapy and day spa this Valentine's Day. The holiday is crucial for the family business, even if Patrice has never been a hearts and flowers kind of girl. But creating the fragrance isn’t easy, and Patrice needs help. She gets that and more when she meets successful perfumer Jacques Germain.
There are instant sparks when Jacques meets Patrice, but she’s asked him for professional help, and mixing business with pleasure is a no-no. But they soon realize that none of the rules apply when love is involved, and Jacques is determined to show Patrice that Valentine's Day can bring gifts more precious than anything money can buy.
Trigger warnings: View Spoiler »
I’ve read one of Ms. Young’s McClendon series before (A Husband By New Year’s), and what I really loved about that book was that both the hero and heroine were hard-working, honest, strong, and generally good people. While each book includes the sisters from the previous novels, they work perfectly fine as standalone. I adored gentlemanly Patrick from the previous book, and their relationship was so sweet and heart-meltingly lovely to read, so I was very much hoping for more of the same in this book. Unfortunately, while there were many of the same elements I loved, there were also some issues I didn’t like.
I liked Patrice. I loved her interactions with her sisters and parents, and I loved how supportive they all are of each other, though they’re also not afraid to speak their mind when they think that trying to formulate and market a new fragrance in a few short months is overly ambitious, even for Patrice! Patrice took over the aromatherapy business from her mom, Myra, and I loved how she kept the family involved – sharing the perfume idea with them, involving Renee in the marketing design, and soliciting feedback from Myra. Patrice is focused on making the business the best it can be, and on putting her own stamp on it. She truly cares about her employees and helping them each achieve their potentials. She’s really a truly lovely person, and I wish she was my boss!
The blurb mentions that Patrice isn’t a “hearts and flowers” kind of girl, but what it doesn’t mention is that she strongly dislikes Valentine’s Day. Despite that, she realizes the good business sense of developing a scent for the business in time for Valentine’s Day, even if she thinks the holiday is worthless.
“’Before we start eating, I’d like to make a toast,’ he said.
‘Okay,’ Patrice agreed, holding up her glass.
He looked her in the eye. ‘To us. May our new fragrance be as sweet as this wine and as hot as I am for you.’”
My main issue with the book, and what brought this down to a three-star read, is Jacques. I just could not like Jacques because of the secret he kept from Patrice, and he didn’t even seem to realize what he was doing. The fact that he’d resigned from his last job and was actively under investigation for corporate espionage was a HUGE deal to me, even though I knew he was innocent. That coming out could seriously jeopardize Patrice’s company, especially as he was working with her to develop a new fragrance. When he does finally tell her, after the culprit is found and he’s officially cleared, she seems to think it was no big deal. Also, she’s surprised that he was one of the main perfumers at such a high profile place. Girl, you’re in business with this dude, and you didn’t even do a background check! At least Google the darn man you’re trying to work with! Also, without telling Patrice, Jacques agrees to go back to working for his old company as a contractor, on the condition that they handle distribution for the scent he’s developing for her boutique. All without consulting her. This is the company that, upon discovering that a perfume formula had been stolen from Jacques’ lab, wanted to put him on administrative leave (which, in my mind, made sense, but was portrayed in the book as them scapegoating him), and which Jacques resigned from in anger and disgust. I didn’t really understand his about-face with them.
Besides the lying, I also had an issue with his reaction to one of the side plots. When he heads over to Patrice’s place for an intimate night in, he finds that she has emergency company (trying to be spoiler-free, so I’m trying to be vague). He’s understandably disappointed, but rather than helping Patrice with the unexpected houseguests, he basically stews for fifteen minutes and then leaves. Later on, she cancels a dinner with him due to the same friend, and he basically says a bunch of things he later regrets. And while he does come to regret trying to force her to prioritize him over pretty much everything else in her life, I found his lack of compassion really disappointing.
“Strength, independence, beauty, and her uncanny ability to speak her mind were some of the many qualities that he loved about her. He noticed that when he was with her, he didn’t think about his problems. Her belief in him as a perfumer to help take her business to the next level was humbling. He’d never had anyone depend on him and show their sincere appreciation before.”
I think, at the heart of it, Jacques is a good guy. At his last job, he trained the employees in his department to “do their jobs with integrity, respect and never ever look for a short cut because they didn’t exist.” He clearly cares deeply for his sister, and appreciates how close Patrice is to her family. He also isn’t intimidated by her, and in fact finds her drive for success and getting-things-done personality highly attractive. It’s obvious that he cares for her deeply and is falling in love with her. He’s very much a gentleman, and he’s got some serious moves, as well!
Overall, while there was a lot of the things I’d loved about the previous book in this one as well, I was unable to get past Jacques’ behavior. I know this is a highly personal quirk, so I would easily expect this to be four stars for a reader who didn’t have the same issues as me! I’ll definitely be trying more of Ms. Young’s books in the future, especially the two earlier books in the series I haven’t read yet.