LOVE AFTER ALL: You Don’t Always Know What You Want (Audio)

 Love After All

Love After All Audio CoverBook 4 in the Hope series
Author Jaci Burton
Narrated by Saskia Maarleveld
Tantor Audio  Jun 16, 2015
Running time 9 hrs 1 min
Also available in print and e-book formats (304 pages) from Jove|Penguin Random House

Audio provided by Tantor Media for review. No remuneration  was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.

High school math teacher Chelsea Gardner has the perfect plan. She’s tired of dating all the wrong men, and after years of frustration, she’s developed a foolproof list of requirements for finding “The One.”

Bar owner Sebastian “Bash” Palmer finds Chelsea beautiful, smart and fun, but he thinks her list is ridiculous and unnecessary. Intent on proving that Chelsea is looking for love in all the wrong ways, he offers to help her find the “perfect” man.

Chelsea knows that Bash isn’t the right guy for her—he barely meets one of her criteria—but there’s something about the charismatic man that has her yearning for things that are most definitely not list approved.

Because sometimes, a relationship that looks totally wrong on paper can turn out to be incredibly right . . .


My Take Oblong
I have been married a pretty long time now, and I admit that I misspent a lot of years trying really hard to turn my husband into some mytholgical creature: “the perfect husband. It took a long time for me to just let him be himself which turns out to be just perfect after all.

We get a lot of signals from movies, books (cough-cough), TV, friends, whatever,… on who and how we should be, who our mates should be and a lot of ideas turn into beliefs.  Relevant to this book is the idea that finding the “perfect man,” or even “MY perfect man” should be left behind. We are at great liberty now to choose husbands or partners for love rather than more practical considerations like the women in Austenian stories.

When I first began listening to this book, with the main female love interest, Chelsea writing her list for what her man would have,  it reminded me of some of my friends who have spent years and years trying to find a perfect man, or to mold the one they find into the man they think they deserve.  Men are no more perfect than we are.  Sadly, I think we all have to learn this for ourselves in order to really believe it; or to believe we are also imperfect.

This is a story in the Hope series, about the people in a town of the same name in Oklahoma.  I have had mixed reactions to the stories and characters in this series. Molly, in the last book, seemed “too dumb to love.” But, in this one both parties in the relationship have been hit with the stupid stick.

All Chelsea’s negatives, the things that keep Bash off her list are not exactly materialistic, but they are superficial  and rather Chelsea-centric. He can’t be into sports or hang out at bars but she does those things with her friends. The list she makes shows how she has been frustrated in the past, but she reacts to symptoms of asshatt-guy syndrome rather than the real essence of it.

Chelsea should have, in my humble opinion, thrown the list away and been perfectly happy.  Bash shows her he is attentive, spends time with her, capable of expressing love, and abunch of other great qualities she thinks only come from being the kind of guy her list would bring. But he is hot, and they have great chemistry. If you have a long relationship you know that being good together in and out of the bedroom is important.
Bash treats  Chelsea  with a degree of chivalry and respect I often find lacking in erotic romance.  He appreciates her physical attributes heartily but not crudely.  Actually, all Jaci’s heroes are very respectful of women.

Okay, well Bash isn’t SO perfect. He wants Chelsea, a lot, exclusively, but then he does seem to want to keep his options open too, or at least keep it all superficial. And, he effs it up big time.  But, without having to overcome that list; without the challenge, it is possible he would not have taken her seriously enough.

Here’s the deal,  these characters are  approachable and relatable but are very much fictional people I doubt I could find anywhere. That’s okay because Jaci brings them to life, makes them hot, makes them fun, makes them sexy and makes it like fireworks on the fourth of July, then like the same fireworks got rained out.  She makes the whole bunch hot, cool, contradictory, and brings her characters to life and love. I ended up seeing myself and my friends in a different light. For me that is saying quite a lot.

I enjoyed how a dog makes such a big difference in the life of these two characters; how a pet brings them together initially. It is heartwarming.
The whole story is great, but I have to point out that if Chelsea had been more open at the start a lot of heartache could have been avoided but would not have made a long and interesting book:

Chelsea: My last five dates were jerks so I am writing up a perfect guy list.
Bash: What are you doing? Making a perfect guy list? That’s dumb.  I’m hot and I really like and dig you.
Chelsea: You’re so right – I love you, let’s get married!
♥ The End ♥

I’m not saying real people or characters in books, should date and such indiscriminately. But, with some practical considerations, some issues of temperament and belief, women and men need to be open to each other.  We rarely know what life will bring us, and often don’t really want what we think we do. Sometimes we look for the wrong things.
There is no Mr.Perfect, no one man or woman who will fulfill your every need. You are the only person you can change.

Jaci brings the joy and pain of life and love to this series in 3-D, surround sound and full technicolor.  Her characters are hot, smart, idiotic and weird. They can be very frustrating, and Chelsea can certainly annoy with this list of things she thinks make a guy perfect. But, Jaci also hits some solid truths that made me think and reminded me of the lives of some of my friends.
I can’t say I noted much about the audio production which is an excellent thing. I prefer it when the audio doesn’t distract me from the story!




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