What a Woman by Judi Fennell #Review

Posted March 11, 2015 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 17 Comments

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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.

What a Woman by Judi Fennell #Review
What a Woman

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Series: #4 Manley Maids
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on March 3, 2015
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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I have been eager for this next book in the series since I realized that the last book was setting up for it. The books have each told the story of a different Manley brother who lost a bet to their sister in a poker game and so owed her one month of cleaning for her company and in the process found their romance. This final book is their sister’s book and her second chance romance with the boy next door now grown and suddenly aware she’s a woman.

The books all take place time-wise at the same time so could be read out of order or as standalones. They do work better in order, but just by a bit.

The story opens with Mac Manley congratulating herself on using a bit of honest deception and her grandmother’s scheming to get her brothers to help her start up her cleaning business by providing one month of free work. Her grandmother’s motivations were to see some matchmaking action since none of her grandchildren have married yet. Mac was fine with it all until she realized that she was part of the matchmaking enterprise when her grandmother requested she help gran’s best friend clean up her old home to sell it. This would have been alright, but Mrs. Nolan’s old home is now occupied by her grandson, Mac’s childhood crush while he recuperates from severe injuries. Jared Nolan was her crush for years and she knew to him that she was just her older brothers’ annoying little sister, but that didn’t stop her from throwing herself at him her senior year and getting humiliated when he made it clear what he thought of kissing young Mac Manley. But she’ll do this job for his grandmother because she is long over Jared, right?

Jared is bitter and scared over the potential loss of his ball career, he’s lonely and hurt that his parents are off doing their thing as usual leaving only Gran to care for him, and he’s forced to wonder what his future will be like now that he’s nearing the end and might not be able to go back to pitching. Into this morass of thought, he is invaded by Hurricane Mac. Where she was disaster always followed. And now she’s a grown woman with a temper and a long memory for the past. His hopes that she would be out of his way quickly are crushed when they find themselves caring for four skampish kittens, a quest to find his gran’s wedding ring in the attic, and his sudden realization that Mac is a gorgeous woman that he has to avoid at all cost. Telling himself he’s off women after the conniving Camille and the fact that this one is unavailable since he’s best friends with her brother. But forced time together makes them both see things past and present in a whole new light.

Mac and Jared’s story had as many sparks flying as I assumed it would have and I was tickled by those mischievous kittens and the matchmaking grandmothers. I was so sad about Jared’s home life and relationship or lack there of with his parents. I even enjoyed the camaraderie of Jared with all the Manley clan including Mac. It was the romance- or actually the impediment to the romance that didn’t entirely grab me. I loved these two together don’t get me wrong. The build up of tension, playfulness, snappy dialogue, flaws that were fixed, sizzle- all there. The tone of nostalgia, happiness, family and small sweet moments was such a cozy thing to just sink into and enjoy.

My one niggle is going to sound picky and it probably is. The conflict in the romance didn’t do it for me. Mac holds an unrequited childhood crush against Jared from over a decade ago. She acts like a victim of some horrid deed like abuse or infidelity when he never did anything to her other than see her as his best friend’s annoying tagalong baby sister. Her hang-ups and resistance didn’t match the situation particularly the way she doubts his word and his actions. The guy is tripping over his own crutches trying to show he’s interested now- the guy who adopts four high-maintenance baby kitties, ignores all the women in heat for him, in spite of his injuries and pain plays catch with a neighborhood boy, is patient with all his fans, agrees to his gran’s schemes just because it makes her happy, participates in Mac’s community programs when nothing’s in it for him. Not that Jared was perfect, oh heck no- oblivious male used to girls stroking the ego and all that. Cranky because he has to rely on others and he’s in pain from his injuries. So she has some legit reasons to snark, but as a barrier to romance it was too minor for me.

Alright, so Mac’s hang-ups aside, I had a good time with this story. There is humor, heart-warming moments, passion, family love and just an overall lovely, engaging story. I’m a sucker for the boy next door romance. Mac was the last of the Manleys to get a story so this might be the final book, but I really hope not. Those who enjoy adorable, humorous family life type Contemporary Romance should give this series a go.

My thanks to Penguin Group and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Romance Roundabout #98 CR

Literary Pickers #99 Piercing

Cliché Klatch #33 ‘Ball in your court’

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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Anna@herding cats&burning soup
Guest

I was really excited for this one too and enjoyed it. I had another minor complaint with the kittens but overall had a blast with it. I can see what you’re saying about the past issues. I kind of looked at it as her being so young when he turned her down and it being (to her young self when first having a crush) so hurtful sticking around long term and causing an issue.

Sophia Rose
Guest

You’re right, sometimes people carry stuff inside them for a long, long time. I don’t which is why it was probably tough for me to see it that way (Italian temperament that explodes and gets it all out there. Not that a temper is a good thing). 😉 Oh with your expertise, you probably caught something about the kitties that slid right by my head. I get funny when people put social workers or social work cases in stories and see issues b/c of my training and years of work.

Anna@herding cats&burning soup
Guest

Yup. I do love seeing animal rescue/vets/etc brought into light but it can be hard sometimes too because you do catch those little bits and pieces. Guess that happens with a lot of careers.

Sophia Rose
Guest

Yeah, I try to cut the writer some slack when it comes to my own field especially if its something piddling b/c unless they’ve done the job there are just some things that research can’t tell you. I’ve read a couple of books with a social worker in them and there was stuff that were just no-nos or very improbable, but I let it go b/c it wasn’t a glaring mistake. But then again, there have been a few that it was quite obvious that the author didn’t do their homework and was a big deal so I said something.

Anna@herding cats&burning soup
Guest

Oh yeah I can see that. Mine with this was the calico which I guess not everyone knows (very very rare for them to be male). I had another though that confused major terms in a book about rescue (adoption vs foster) and so made me twitch because that’s pretty basic for the field.

Sophia Rose
Guest

I can see twitching over adoption and foster terms b/c hey, that’s very different even with humans.
Oh yes, you’re right, most of the calicos I’ve seen are females. Didn’t catch that.

Red Iza
Guest

That series is already on my list, I’ll be happy to read it, but I don’t think you’re being picky : there are so many times in romance novels when a reason for conflict is stupid or so dragged that it’s a disservice to the story 🙂

Sophia Rose
Guest

I think you’ll have fun with this one, Iza. I didn’t read book one, but the brothers in books two and three were fun. This one was too. Thanks for saying that about my pickiness. I really do have to buy into the conflict for it to work and I just thought she held her hurts over a teenage thing too long for me to believe it. He was rather cranky too so that didn’t help her get past it. 😉

Sophia Rose
Guest

I think you’ll have fun with this one, Iza. I didn’t read book one, but the brothers in books two and three were fun. This one was too. Thanks for saying that about my pickiness. I really do have to buy into the conflict for it to work and I just thought she held her hurts over a teenage thing too long for me to believe it. He was rather cranky too so that didn’t help her get past it. 😉

Sharonda
Guest

I like these kind of romances, the best friend and sister ones. I agree, her still being angry cuz he turned her down in HS is a bit much, but it does make for good story telling, lols 😉

Sophia Rose
Guest

Oh yeah, sparks and fur does fly in this one. It was pretty funny when they got all snarly with each other.

Sarah @ One Curvy Blogger
Guest

Sophia, I have been itching to read this series since Herding Cats posted a review on one of the manly maid books! I’m glad you liked this, even though the MC’s hang ups didn’t fit (can you really blame a guy for not crushing on you? Is that a thing? Really??) you enjoyed the book. I know I will enjoy the series when I eventually get to it 🙂 Thanks for the review!

Sophia Rose
Guest

It was a fun series, Sarah. I didn’t start with book one, but I had a good time with the last three. I think book two was my very favorite (movie star cleaning house for a widow and five kids and their pets). Hope you enjoy it!

Mary Kirkland
Guest

I’ve heard a few good things about this series. And it really does sound like a good one. Thanks for the great review.

Sophia Rose
Guest

Its a lot of fun, Mary. Hope you get the chance to try them.

Lola R
Guest
Lola R

Oh this sounds like a fun series, with the lost bet thing and how thansk to that they fidn their romance. And it’s always fun when a series follows a family like this. I will check out the first book in this series. I have read a romance recently where the conflict didn’t work for me, sometimes I wonder why authors always try to induce conflict like that which is mostly in the minds of the characters and if they just talked about it, it would be solved in a second. Great review!

Sophia Rose
Guest

It was a lot of fun. The brothers are suspicious, but have no idea how she beat them at their game. They are each different and end up in some pretty funny situations. Mac does too, obviously. Hope you like it.

And yes, sometimes the conflict doesn’t feel real to me so its hard for me to believe it.