Rating: 3 stars
Dylan White, free spirit and free lance florist designer, is on vacation when he gets a call that will change his life. His friend, Mike Benton, has died and left him everything he had owned, including a house and florist shop in Jacksonville, Florida. Dylan lands in Jacksonville and heads to the law offices handling Mike’s will and funeral services. As Dylan leaves the law firm, he runs smack dab into a human wall in the form of Sean Mellick. Sean Mellick is a junior defense lawyer with the same firm handling Mike’s affairs and is immediately struck by his attraction to the gorgeous man leaving his law firm.
Dylan finds himself similarly attracted to Sean. Suddenly, he is finding reasons to stay in town, settle down and run a business. As Dylan and Sean embark upon a romance, problems with the shop he inherited and a law case Sean is involved in rise up to threaten their new formed relationship. Can Dylan throw aside his temptations to leave and fight instead for love and a home?
I had a hard time staying with this book but it took me some time to figure out why. Serena Yates has the elements in place for a riveting story. We have a commitment phobic free spirit and a work obsessed lawyer coming together with a couple of stressful events thrown in their path to happiness. The characters seem likable and their situations appeared realistic. So what was the problem? Why didn’t the story or the people engage me? The answer I keep coming back to is that I just didn’t buy what the author was trying to sell me.
Let’s start with the characterizations. Dylan White is supposed to be this amazing larger than life bon vivant, a true free spirit. But the author never gives us one, not in her descriptions nor dialog. We are told he is one, because he is on vacation and left the florist shop his parents own. Why? Because he didn’t like the floral designs they were putting out. That’s a free spirit? The only thing that says impulsive free spirit is the statement in the beginning telling us that Dylan is one. The same goes for Sean Mellick. We are supposed to buy that Sean is a young man driven to become partner at his law firm, putting that goal above all else, including a personal life. How do we know this? A senior partner is surprised he has a date and again, the author told us so. As far as I could tell, the senior partner could have been surprised because Sean is socially inept. Again, there is no backstory or pertinent characteristics to support this view of Sean Mellick. It all comes back to the fact that an author must build a character/characters that a reader will believe in. If that person has a devil may care spirit, show me in dialog, history and actions. Don’t just leave him flat on the page. If you want me to believe a character is driven, convince me of that! Don’t just tell me he is one. I never believed in either character because there was never any followup to support that initial description and my interest in the story was gone.
If you can overlook the superficial characterizations, then the next problem lies in the criminal element Yates introduces into her story. It just never made any sense. The problem at Dylan’s new shop and Sean’s case are supposed to be connected but little is made of that fact. Everything is not as it appears at the floral shop. An interesting element is thrown at us, but this plot line is essentially wasted, as it is not well developed, and in the end not necessary to the story. Nor is Sean’s job, which we were made to believe was a singular goal of his. All these roadblocks or issues the author raises for the characters just slide away, another unreal or unbelievable element in a story full of them.
So in the end I didn’t buy the characters or the storyline. This is the only book I have read from the Workplace Encounters series so I won’t write them off based on this alone. But I am not recommending this for anyone other than a hardcore Serena Yates fan.
cover: Cover Artist is Reese Dante. The cover is just ok, doesn’t speak to anything inside the book or the story.