Review: Until I Saw Your Smile by JJ Murray

until i saw your smileReviewed by Shelly

I’ve read one other story from JJ Murray, so I’m somewhat familiar with this writing style. I was hoping to like this one a lot more than I liked the other story I read, but I’m not any more impressed now than I was back then.

Angela Smith owns and runs a local coffee and pastry shop in Williamsburg, NY. She inherited the business from her parents who have since move away, but she’s doing the best she can until a chain coffee store moves across the street from her shop.

Looking at an increase in rent from her landlord and a potential loss of customers to the chain store, Angela is at her wits end on finding a solution. Matthew McConnell is an attorney living and practicing his occupation in the same neighborhood. After meeting Angela one day while he’s getting coffee, Matthew proposes a deal that he’ll use space in her coffee shop to set up shop.

I didn’t know when I started this that it would be from the hero’s POV – I was pleasantly surprised.  I also didn’t expect was the jumping back and forth to Matthew’s inner thoughts when he spoke. It’s so frustrating and distracting to read a line that has Matthew’s thoughts then the next line is dialogue and the dialogue might or might not be the same thing he just thought. Furthermore, I’m not sure how I feel about this story. It started out slow, I mean really slow, where it was about Matthew and these women he went out with. I think there were about 6 of them not including Angela. So there’s a lot to get through before the story of this couple can begin. At 35, Matthew had a lot of immature ways about him. He started out his career as an up and coming attorney, but that went away when he made a choice that was not in the best interest of one of his clients. That was a bit confusing to me because I didn’t understand if he felt the way he did, why he didn’t recuse himself from the case or better yet just quit. But hey, I just let it go and tried to enjoy the story telling.

What I didn’t enjoy reading about were those dates Matthew went on and what his intent was on each of those dates. This is probably why I don’t read a lot of male POV stories. I also didn’t understand something else that happened very early in the story. Matthew’s live-in girlfriend, Joy, had just left him for some teacher. So instead of spending months (heck, even weeks) getting over that, Matthew is on the prowl, and I do mean out with another woman, within a day or two. Then after going through half a dozen or so women he finally decides that Angela is the one he wants to be with. He just met Angela a few weeks after Joy left him. Maybe that’s how they do it in Williamsburg, NY, I’m guessin’. There was nothing that I liked about Matthew. Other than his old job, that’s all we got to know about him. He didn’t have any friends and his parents lived out of the state.

The progression of their relationship was so fast it gave me whiplash. And Angela’s secret was, well that was her secret, but I’m not sure my sympathy for her was what it should be because I wasn’t convinced of her whole character – it was flat and she never moved past being single dimensional. Other than her secret, nothing of her past was really revealed. I got the impression that she was sheltered and worked a lot when she was younger but there were big chunks of her past that were missing. And how do you go through your entire life without a single friend? How does that happen?

There’s just something about this entire story that didn’t convince me to root for these two people. The first half of the story read slow; the second half felt like I was reading a whole other story line with the same characters. I did like the second half more but by then I was already over Angela and Matthew and any pretense of enjoying their story.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: C

*ARC provided by publisher for review

Click to purchase: Amazon

Until I Saw Your Smile
by JJ Murray
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Kensington

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