Leah Morgan isn’t interested in love. She didn’t have it while she was growing up, and the love she found as an adult didn’t last. Still, she leads a well-rounded life, with a rewarding career, some volunteer work, and friends that could just as easily be called family. Her losses haven’t made her bitter, though; they’ve made her stronger, more self-reliant, and eager to help anywhere she’s needed. Love is the last thing on her mind when she meets movie star Declan James, but that certainly won’t keep her from enjoying him.
Declan James hasn’t had a lasting relationship since his college girlfriend decided that his pursuit of Hollywood career wasn’t the life for her. His rise to fame doesn’t make relationships easy anyhow, so it’s a good thing he doesn’t want one. There are plenty of women willing to warm his bed for the night without insinuating themselves into his life. But when he can’t get one of them out of his head, his selfish & solitary life is in for a big change.
Never Been Ready accomplishes what so many other books strive for and miss. Normally, when I pick up a book about two people who don’t want or really believe in fairy tale endings, the characters are so bitter and stubborn about it that every step forward is a fight. It gets old after a while, and there’s always a chance that I’ll tire of their prideful distance and begin to dislike them for whatever cruel avoidance tactics they use. Not so with Leah and Deslan. At all.
First, they’re both entirely likable from the get-go. Sure, they aren’t really looking for love, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been putting up walls for the last century. Leah is kind and strong and fun in spite of her rough childhood; it’s really impossible not to love her. And Deslan may be a bit on the cocksure side, but he’s not a bad guy, not even close. Their initial attraction, their sort-of-but-not-really-dating, their sense of wonder mixed with fear when they begin to realize they’re developing feelings for each other… Well, it all makes for a great read.
Likewise, the avoidance of the standard Hollywood drama was quite refreshing. Declan’s a famous movie star, so it would have been easy to screw with the story in the way of tabloid headlines, paparazzi trying to get a reaction, some snotty costar manipulating and conniving. But while these bits may have been touched upon, they didn’t take over the plot. A few chapters from Declan’s point of view also gave good insight into his character, revealing his own insecurities, and that went a long way toward creating more than just the standard two-dimensional male lead.
Oh, and that plot twist? I suspected it for about five seconds, but the story continued without so much as a hint of it for so long that I started to think my suspicions were little more than a conditioned reaction. It’s not often that stories surprise me with a sudden twist like this one did, and that just made it all the more fun. Unfortunately, I haven’t touched the series other than this one book, but that’s something I’m sure I’ll have to change. Never Been Ready may sound like a formulaic romance novel, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.