Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Unfortunately, this book didn't pan out for me. I've read a few of Jen Turano's novels in the past and liked them - but Out of the Ordinary really didn't have the same type of story structure, romance, or excitement. Which is a bit of a bummer...
First off, let's talk romance. Don't get me wrong - I love a good romance novel. They're adorable and sweet and often funny and have good messages. But the interaction between the two main characters in this was...I don't know, interspersed? I didn't feel like I got very much of them together, and a lot of what I did get was building upon a friendship begun in book one of this series (which I...yeah, I haven't read. So that's on me!). Which is okay...except that their relationship didn't seem very deep. At all. There were moments when they'd share their hearts, but it was rare. Neither one knew where the other person stood - again, that's okay, but it just...dragged on? Honestly, I barely cared about the characters being together....which isn't usually the case. Normally I'm rooting for the couple! Plus, it got a bit old with almost all of the secondary characters commenting on the "progress" of their relationship. IT WOULDA BEEN OKAY, but then it kept happening. Over and over again. And both MCs didn't even know how they felt, which, again, is fine, normally, but since I got so little of them together, it...just...didn't work. But then they suddenly, very suddenly, realize they love the other person...except the word "love" wasn't really used, at least in Harrison's case - it was "affection." On top of that, Harrison and Gertrude are supposed to already have a good friendship - and they sorta did? But at the same time it felt fresh and unsteady, without the firm foundation two people need to be a couple. In the novel, the relationship worked, and we're left to imagine them happily getting married and staying happy until the end of their days. K, so...nope. If their relationship was real, it would be at a new stage. Not an engagement stage. It almost felt flighty. LIKE GUYS, YOU GOTTA BE MORE GROUNDED THAN THIS. AND LASTLY, the side romances. One of them was fine, and seemed to be somewhat built upon a good friendship/relationship, but then there was a brand new romance between a side character and another side character and it's love-at-first-sight-I-will-marry-you kinda love. Sometimes that's all right, but since it was compounded with the MCs romance, which was a tad superficial, it made pretty much all the romance feel...shallow. Love isn't about looks - there was too much focus on the physical attributes of the characters, and it annoyed me. *ahem*
Secondly, the structure of the story. I didn't get the climax. The first half of the book happened in the span of a few hours, so...it kinda seemed like nothing happened. The whole book plays out in a matter of like five/six days (or thereabouts), AND JUST I felt like I was reading a snippet of what should've been an entire story? The MCs end up together (which in romance novels isn't a spoiler, haha...) but it was somewhat thrown in at the end and it almost felt like... HUH? WHAT HAPPENED TO BRING THEM TO THIS POINT? There wasn't much conflict to overcome...I mean, yeah, there was the personal struggle of Gertrude, her frustrations with her employer, and her employer's personal struggles, but they all got wrapped up. Honestly, what Gertrude was going through...would be really hard. It'd be painful, and it'd probably take a lot to heal the hurt she was harboring. But we didn't get that healing process?? Gertrude very suddenly realizes, from a bit of a speech from a pastor, that what she's been believing is wrong, and then it's like POOF next thing the reader knows, she's totally over it. IDEK.
Thirdly, the writing. (I really feel like I'm saying a lot of negatives, but...) This is probably just my personal taste, but the writing style isn't my favorite? I don't know why, but every single character seems high strung and stressed like one hundred percent of the time, and I don't get that?! *sigh*
Overall, Out of the Ordinary wasn't my cup of tea. There wasn't enough plot, I wasn't rooting for the characters, it was wrapped up too quickly, there was a lot of repetitious happenings pertaining to the romance/Gertrude's employers habits + the repercussions, and most of the story felt pretty shallow. I'm left wondering where the story arc was...and a bit hesitant to try more of Turano's books. :P
Huge thanks to Bethany House Publishers for giving me a free review copy! The feelings expressed above are completely my own.
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