Book #66: Nice Girls Finish Last by Natalie Anderson part of the “Working It” series that can be purchased at K-Mart for $3.74 (and online as an ebook)
The Harlequin mark on the top corner told me this was a romance. The wedding ring in the corner promised the “happy ending” would be a culturally appropriate goal that would sanction sex – marriage.
I haven't read a book like this since the early 90s, since before the internet and DVRs and OnDemand, back when watching OJ’s slow speed chase was downright riveting. I remember spending a summer buying these books by the bundle at a thrift shop then curling up in my too quiet room reading a book, leaving my corner of the universe and disappearing into the passionate dramas of disowned heiresses and their ilk through torrid PG-17 affairs set hundreds of years ago and thousands of miles away which always always always end happily in that they never deal with what comes AFTER a single woman "hooks" a man in marriage.
This book is set in far away New Zealand, where Lena, the twenty-something single protagonist finds herself working for a rugby team. In the first pages she is forced (forced!) to pour oil on the sweaty half naked rugby players. They were hazing her because she was new, because she was hot and reserved and basically uptight.
Then Lena meets Seth and they have instant chemistry.
He is not a rugby player, they like each other instantly and by that night they are having PG sex.
“Pleasure. Such pleasure. Profound pleasure…. Pure power-filled delight bubbled up from within, finding release….” And “He wanted it to go on and on – this tension that put her at his mercy.”
Now, if Lena were in her 30s or 40s or even if Lena were a bit “smarter” she would have thanked the universe for sending her a hot millionaire who was into her.
But no. She does this whole “we can only have TONIGHT” thing and tells him he’s like a too rich dessert and sends him on his way.
Seth is older than Lena, more accomplished and generally but irrationally pursues Lena while she’s telling him that she’s no good for him and they can be nothing but a series of one night stands.
We find out Seth’s dad cheated on his mom and ultimately broke his family up, and that Lena once had an affair with a married man and hoped to break that family up but ended up humiliated.
To her, this is the fatal flaw that makes her unlovable, that allows her to neurotically and irrationally distance herself from Seth who is obviously a gift from the universe.
If she were my friend I would tell her to stop living in her head, wake up and live in the present. For example, if you’re on a plane and a perfectly delicious stranger sits next to you, I suggest you say thank you to the universe that arranged this moment and see what kind of conversation unfolds and where it takes you.
Lena doesn’t have many friends in this book, which conveniently leaves room for her to wallow in her on her own self-centered thought cesspool of a woman who was not yet accomplished in her career and life and had too much time to think about herself.
By the end of the book Lena has confessed each and every one of her moral and physical and emotional shortcomings to Seth.
This makes for awful small talk.
They never discuss the world, they never laugh together, they never even just take a walk.
Every single discussion they have is about their hearts, their flaws, the impossibility and urgency of their need for each other, like their relationship is a grenade that can blow them up separately and together.
When they aren’t talking to each other about their fatal flaws and everything they’ve done to be unworthy of each other, they’re thinking about each other, heavy painful thoughts, so dramatic I found myself covering my mouth and laughed quietly so as to not disturb their lamentation over treasure
The book ends with Lena finding a bit of maturity and therefore finally capable of feeling loved by this guy who ultimately proposes to her at the end, to which she replies, “Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes” and the book ends. I wish them luck, and hope they use birth control until she deals with some of her issues.