FicCentral received a free copy of this book from *the author*.
When Amelia stumbles into her childhood bedroom after a night of heavy drinking, the last thing she expects to find is her father’s best friend, the man who’s starred countless fantasies of hers. Before either of them are awake enough to realize that what they’re doing is more than a dream, they’ve crossed a line that neither can forget. And despite the age difference and almost certain conflict to come, they’re both in over their heads in no time.
But... While the story is all kinds of entertaining, there’s definitely something signature fanfiction about it. Since fanfiction is generally posted a single chapter at a time, each one has to have something to both immediately satisfy and keep readers on the hook for the next chapter. In many cases, that’s sex and a cliffhanger, and that pattern was pretty apparent in Just a Number. After a few, I found myself skimming past the sex scenes to get to the meat of the story.
The Verdict: Most romances have a hero who is a little older than the heroine, and a few stretch that out by a few more years, so the guy can successful and better able to ride in on his white horse and make all the girl’s problems disappear. In Just a Number, however, Owen is quite literally twice Amelia’s age, old enough in fact to have been her father’s best friend before Amelia was even born. And that little bit right there gave the story a lot more credibility than I expected.
Amelia is no shrinking violet, and once she gets a taste of Owen, she doesn’t hold back. It’s not that he steps in as some kind of father figure, but more that he’s there as her walking fantasy come true, and while she doesn’t really know where things will take them, she’s not about to give up her chance with him.
Owen is understandably conflicted, but Amelia proves to be too much temptation for him to ignore, and in no time their accidental make-out session becomes a pretty regular relationship. The story’s conflict, of course, is their age difference, and coupled with the sure disapproval of her father, these two have quite a few hurdles to climb if they’re going to make a real go of it.
The age aspect of Owen and Amelia’s relationship played out so realistically, though I wonder if readers who haven’t witnessed it in real life will pick up on it completely. The open curiosity of strangers, being mistaken for relatives instead of a couple, Owen’s insecurity about Amelia’s youthfulness… It was all really spot-on, and since it’s told in both points of view, we get the full perspective. What I liked best, though — aside from the crazy chemistry between Amelia and Owen — was the messy way everything fell into place as their relationship was discovered by those they cared about most. Instead of being neatly resolved within just a page or two, with everyone headed straight for happily ever after a few seconds later, there were realistic reactions of shock, hurt, anger, and suspicion, and it took more than just a simple conversation to set things right with everyone.
Just a Number is a wonderfully entertaining love story that doesn’t shortcut the age difference or the problems it causes, and there’s some real heat between Amelia and Owen from page one. Masquerading as a simple romance, there’s plenty of drama to be found in their story, without some contrived conflict thrown in to ratchet up the suspense.