Book Review | Maybe This Time by Nicole McLaughlin

Good Story, Not-So-Good Characters

POSTED ON February 22, 2018 BY Austine IN Book Review

Book Review | Maybe This Time by Nicole McLaughlin
Maybe This Time
by Nicole McLaughlin
Series: Whiskey and Weddings #2
Published on February 27, 2018 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 327
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Romance

Jen Mackenzie has been knocked down more than a few times, but she always gets up and makes sure she has the last word. It’s the reason she now considers herself equal parts self-sufficient and free-spirit. But since losing her job and trying to help her mother beat cancer, real life―and her occasional careless choices―have begun to catch up with her. Her one saving grace: The Stag, a boutique distillery that has become Kansas City’s go-to wedding venue. The only catch: One of the owners, TJ Laughlin, happens to be the one man who somehow manages to make Jen feel inadequate.

TJ has secretly had a thing for Jen since high school. Now, as her new boss, it’s a daily struggle between revealing his feelings and wringing her beautiful neck. Only one thing is for certain: he can’t stand idly by and watch the woman he cares for struggle. She may be convinced that accepting TJ’s help is a weakness. But all he sees in Jen is beauty and strength, inside and out. As things finally heat up between them, can TJ find a way to convince Jen that love is about give and take―and having it all, together?

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Content & Trigger Warnings: graphic sexual content

This book was provided by the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Mini Review

Knight's Judgment
Writing Style

I think I made the mistake of reading Maybe This Time out of order. Or perhaps it was just the book itself. Either way, something didn’t click.

This book follows Jen, part-time bartender and fill-in receptionist at a local popular distillery run by TJ and his friends. TJ happens to be one of the people from high school that Jen thinks looked down at her. And there you have the perfect misunderstood couple set-up.

I really just didn’t like Jen. Everything was depressing around her. Between her complaining and all the other things that have gone wrong in her life, I just wanted one good thing. ONE. But it was like the author wanted to make sure we really pitied Jen which is not how I want to approach a main character. I don’t mind feeling bad for them a little bit but my connection to a protagonist shouldn’t be “surely something has to turn around here.”

And she makes all these assumptions about TJ! For a good chunk of the book, she’s made up her mind that he thinks she’s the worst. Never asks, doesn’t try to communicate, just assumes.

Yet despite her faults, I can’t say I liked TJ much better than Jen. He has this crush on her for over a decade but it’s never really clear why (and it’s not as though Jen is showing any grade-A personality traits to make it believable). TJ just. . . puts up with Jen and her bad attitude. Why? I couldn’t tell you. I think he would have made a great love interest if not for her, to be honest.

I just wasn’t in the mood to deal with either character or their emotional baggage by the end. Maybe This Time was definitely well-written and I think the actual plot was just fine. My primary issue was with the characters. Because of that, I think I’ll try out the first book as well as the third and see how they go!

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