Review: By Proxy

by proxyReviewed by Janell

In Montana, people who can’t physically be present for their wedding can appoint proxies to take vows for them. In this book, the lovebirds are in the military, stationed apart from each other, and they want to get married ASAP because the woman is pregnant and they want to be somewhat traditional. Enter the bride’s best friend, Jenny, and the groom’s cousin, Sam, to take care of things.

Jenny is a small town science teacher who goes to church and doesn’t drink. She’s close to her three brothers, she has a new puppy, and she is beloved by the town. Sam is from Chicago, and he’s a rich investment banker who schmoozes clients at fancy parties and dates sexy, shallow women. Their first impressions of each other are just that superficial.

A snowstorm makes Sam late for the fake wedding, and the judge has left town for the weekend, so Sam has to stick around for three days. He invites Jenny out to dinner, and he is pretty much blown away by how genuine, sweet, wholesome and beautiful she is, the exact opposite of the type he’s used to.

I was wary of how this book would shake out. They only had three days, and I didn’t think their romance would be believable. Especially when, after their dinner, they separately relive their every interaction, hitting the reader over the head with how much they noticed and appreciated about the other.

But then, somehow, they keep being honest and gentle with each other, and they start to like each other, even though they know nothing can happen. Jenny is innocent as can be — she was shy in high school, and had one boyfriend who shoved his tongue down her throat and grabbed her breast before she kneed him in the crotch. But when Sam kisses her, and sucks on her tongue, she feels things down below for the first time and she likes it.

This is a sweet book, meaning no sex. But I appreciated how Jenny recognized her response to Sam, how she knew that he had awakened her sexually. Also, even though Jenny goes to church, this isn’t a bible-thumping, God-fearing book. Jenny quotes Shakespeare and C.S. Lewis, instead.

Things really picked up for me when Jenny and Sam were separated. Jenny didn’t want to leave her family, Sam didn’t want to leave his career, they didn’t think anything could work between them. But as time passed, their feelings for each other became so clear that their previous lives didn’t seem worth fighting for. The author did a great job of showing how Sam and Jenny changed for each other. They each decided, on their own, to make sacrifices.

I loved this conversation between Jenny and her Pappa:

“I love him, Pappa.”

“Yep.”

“I have to go to him.”

“Yep.”

“Chicago.”

“Yep.”

I have a mini rant here: Sam compares Jenny to his past girlfriend and notes the difference that Jenny doesn’t know she’s beautiful (like the song!), which makes her better. This calls to mind one of those “Dear Teenage Girls” letters I’ve read recently, about the mixed messages that girls get. They should be pretty, but they shouldn’t work to be pretty, but they shouldn’t be ugly, and they shouldn’t act like they know they’re pretty. I guess it works to get guys, because fictional Sam certainly bought it. But it made my eyeball twitch just a little bit.

Overall, the small town was cute, the Norwegian phrases were great details, and by the end of the book I was reading fast, desperate for Sam and Jenny to get back together, and totally believing in them.

Rating: B+

Click to purchase: Amazon

By Proxy
by Katy Regnery
Release Date: September 22, 2013
Publisher:  Boroughs Publishing Group

Comments

  1. I love this review (you have a really great, strong, unique voice, Janell – it’s compelling) because it’s real and honest and I kind of love it that Jenny and Sam managed to win you over! Thanks for believing in them. 🙂

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