Review: Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey

Reviewed by Joanna

Daisy and Lucas were rivals as children. Born the same hour of the same day, they lived next door to one another, sharing parties, schools and their social group. They hated each other’s guts, going to great lengths to best the other, and only taking a break when they went to separate colleges to qualify as doctors. Now twenty-eight and wanting to specialize in family medicine, Daisy returns home to Hamilton to take over her local private practice from her former family doctor. Unbeknownst to her, Lucas has also been appointed to the same job, with the retiring doc taking on two new members of staff. Daisy is furious. Though she and Lucas haven’t seen or spoken to one another in eleven years, her grudge is still forefront in her mind and she’s desperate to dislodge Lucas from the shared role. It’s all very petty.

They’re forced to work together, and both being unexpectedly super hot, get under each other’s collars. This somehow surprises Daisy – she was anticipating pure rivalry – but the playground games continue despite the attraction. He orders yucky fruit in her name as a gift for the support staff (whilst supplying yummy doughnuts himself). She bickers with him over patient diagnosis – not exactly covering either of them in glory.

The story has an obvious direction – their love-to-hate has to resolve into something more, right? Yeah. It’s the basis of the story. And while it wasn’t exactly slow, it was so contrived, for the first half I wasn’t gripped or invested. There was nothing wrong with the writing, and it was meant to be funny, but I was annoyed by Daisy and Lucas’s childishness. I guess years of studying and working 90 hour weeks as a student doc doesn’t leave any room to gain social skills, but the lack of maturity and particularly Daisy’s (the POV is 99% hers) poor awareness irked me. She was blinded to her attraction to the other hot doc, and refused to the point of absurdity to see how interested he was in her.

The cuteness passed me by. I wanted more character development and less of the reverting to infancy after each step forward.

“I’m eating my lunch locked inside my shoebox of an office while I casually dispatch Lucas’ CV to high-ranking hospitals around Alaska. After I’ve hit send on the fifth submission, I start to digest both my turkey sandwich and Lucas’ motives for kissing me. I know he is trying to get inside my head.”

At chapter nine, we get a switch – a short segment from Lucas’s POV. I was hoping for this exact thing and the author gifted it to me. His section is written in tiny journal form excerpts, in the medium of never-sent emails to Daisy. I’m not going to say the content as that’s a little too spoilery, but safe to say Lucas has a different take on their lives together. I’d have loved to have read more of his side.

The setup of this book appealed to me – I thought it would be hot to see them pitting themselves against each other. But it became irritating to the point I almost DNF’d where Daisy’s behavior just gets worse. Her growing attraction to Lucas makes her act batshit crazy and in a scene of forced proximity, she acts like a complete idiot trying to get away from him:

– hatching escape plans (they’re in quarantine – she’s a qualified doctor. Um, what?)

– stealing food and hiding it from him

– creating a border down the middle of the room with tongue depressors to divide up the space (did you do this with siblings as kids? I did. When I was seven).

The lack of professionalism and shrill hysteria switched me off. I should’ve been warming up to them spending up close and personal time together, or giggling at the evasion, but instead I wanted to spin on past this scene. I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before. I live for these scenes in other books.

So I’m thinking this tale – the book form of a big budget RomCom movie with dopey characters and no depth – is in a genre I just don’t enjoy. I was in the mood for a humorous story but I only managed one small laugh. Slapstick doesn’t work for me.

I didn’t hate it, there was even one moment at 80% where I felt genuinely sad for one of the main characters, but it was too little too late. My investment in them together was meh. Also I was bugged by the lack of affectionate contact between them, and they had no conversation about condoms/birth control which is an issue for me in modern romance.

The ending required a couple of flash in the pan unanticipated plot devices to string out the tension, and these happily went away as if they were never there by the epilogue.

“It does kind of feel like an anticlimactic ending to our little war.”

If you enjoy RomComs this might well work for you. There’s the thrill of the chase and lots of scenes where the H&H are childish jerks to one another. The side characters are stereotypes (the embarrassing mother, the gooey-eyed receptionist, the patriarchal senior doctor, the knowing best friend) and this would transfer to the big screen with no loss to the internal landscape of feelings. But if you want any delving into psyche or self-awareness to your romance, you’ll come up short.

Rating: C

Click to purchase: Amazon

Anything You Can Do
by RS Grey
Release Date: February 1, 2017

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