Review: Next to You by Julia Gabriel

next to youReviewed by Shelly

Be forewarned, the heroine in this book is a millionaire and the hero is a billionaire. That’s a complete uphill battle for the author to convince me that my sympathy and/or empathy should be targeted towards either of these characters. For goodness sake, they’re both rolling in the dough; come on now we all know that money = happiness or is it?

Phlox (pronounced Floks) Miller and her best friend, Zelda Malisewski, have answered a market need; they sell beauty products. Recently, they created a new line of specialty cream that’s specific to each buyer. During some product testing while in her home kitchen Phlox accidentally blew up a pot of oil and wax and unfortunately she was in close proximity and got a face full. Over the past year, she’s undergone dozens of surgeries to repair some of the damage done to her face. The thing about plastic surgery is that when skin/bone/cartilage is needed for the repair, it’s best to be autologous as it reduces the chance of rejection. So for Phlox, she’s got scars in other places to fix the damage done to her face.

Even though they created Phlox Beauty directly after college and have been very successful with their endeavors, Phlox has never had to be the person that’s the face of the company. That’s been a role successfully filled by Zelda. So having her faced fixed wasn’t a priority, just a necessity. After many surgeries and knowing that the company will not suffer with her absence, Phlox takes a break and returns to her home in CT. A few months prior, her faithful and efficient assistant hired a caretaker for the property, so when she gets to the house, everything is fixed from the explosion and she can just ease in to taking some time off. No household chores or ground keeping issues to worry about. Cue Jared Connor.

Not wanting anyone to see him, his face really, Jared Connor has been hiring himself out as a caretaker for quite some time. He figures that with a job such as that, there’s very little chance that people will see him. When Jared was 10 years old, he woke up one night to his house on fire. It was all he could do to save his younger brother and it’s been the two of them ever since.

Once Jared and Phlox get together, it doesn’t take long, and the anxieties (mostly on Jared’s side) start to fly, things quickly heat up between these two and it’s not long before they’re sharing more than burn stories.

Jared was a complete jerk. He was a jerk to his brother and his sister in law. He was a jerk to Phlox. He rationalized all of it on his facial burns and that he looks like his father on the not burned parts of his face. Speaking of – that father of theirs certainly won the terrible father of the year award. But back to Jared. He acted as if his brother wasn’t right there along with him in both the house fire and the journey since. And I know they’re guys, but for goodness sake, STOP hanging up on your brother when he’s clearly got more to say. Like I said, complete jerk.

Then there’s the way he and Phlox got together. It’s been a long time since I saw someone throw themselves at a guy as much as she did. The thing about Phlox is that her new face is very pretty. But her old face was girl next door so she’s never got the guys who went after the model type face. Oh, and she had great boobs – she mentioned that a lot, I mean a lot. Back to her face for a second, the way that Phlox described herself was that she was basically shy and relatively modest. But with Jared, she’s stripping down to her underwear to show her scars. Since when do burn victims rush out to show off their burns and subsequent scars without being asked?

I wanted this to be a better story. I wanted to know about the issues, both mental and physical, that stem from both the scars and the circumstance behind them. I wanted to see either of the characters, especially Jared, take up the mantel for so many burn victims and maybe visit a burn unit or two to talk to other survivors. I wanted to see either of them, especially Jared, set up a charity to help victims (especially because of domestic violence – considering his story). I wanted a lot more than I got. This book isn’t terrible, isn’t not even bad; it’s just meh for all the things I wish it could have been.

Phlox is an interesting choice to name a heroine.

Happy reading folks!

Rating: C

Click to purchase: Amazon

Next to You
by Julia Gabriel
Release Date: December 23, 2014
Publisher: Serif Books

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