Early Review: The Guy Next Door anthology

Title: The Guy Next Door
Series: contains Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor #0.5 and Donovan Brothers Brewery #0.5
Author: Lori Foster, Susan Donovan, Victoria Dahl
To be published: Feb. 15, 2011 by Harlequin

Quick Take:
The three novellas--two of which are series prequels--are full of both the sweet and spicy side of romance. Each plays on the anthology title's theme in a different way, and ends up satisfying yet also stirring curiosity.

Book Description:
Ready, Set, Jett by Lori Foster
A vacation from her no-strings romance with her sexy next-door neighbor. That's what Natalie Alexander needs to get her head—and heart—together. But her solo trip south turns into a disaster when gorgeous Jett Sutter turns up with another challenge.
Gail's Gone Wild by Susan Donovan
Single mom Gail Chapman insists on chaperoning her teenage daughter's spring-break trip to Key West. But she never expects to face temptation—in the hunky form of Jesse Batista, the mysterious man in the cottage next door.
Just One Taste by Victoria Dahl
All-work-and-no-play businessman Eric Donovan won't be distracted by a "businesswoman" who's all wrong for him. Beth Cantrell owns a women's erotica shop! And she has a juicy little secret. Can she tempt him to put pleasure before business for once?
Hm. With a title and lineup such as the one noted on the cover, you can almost bet you'll get a good time. As one might expect, each of the three stories in this anthology serve as a take on the "guy next door." But less obvious is that the stories all dealt with the idea of assumptions and misguided perceptions; often, there's a layer of truth that's skewed for one reason or another. I feel like the three stories struck the right balance in serving the overall theme yet coming across as unique in cast, setting and plot.

Ready, Set, Jett (3 of 5 stars)
This is a fairly insulated story; that is to say, for the vast majority of time, only these two characters are "on stage." It's also a prequel of sorts: though the couple's story is wrapped up, there are threads introduced that are intended to serve as the basis for a series. I enjoyed this book, but found myself at times frustrated with the "easily fixable miscommunication" theme. I guess I just don't do well with the stories in which the two main characters spend inordinate amounts of time making assumptions that could 1) be cleared up in seconds and 2) cause strife between the two. But I know that was sort of the point…the characters waste time by remaining afraid to express their feelings. The story has some intensely sweet moments; here, it's all about the mental sparring. ^_^

Gail's Gone Wild (4 of 5 stars)

Inspired by the author's trip to Key West, this story really does feel carefree and fun. It was such an easy, enjoyable read…one which I happily read in one sitting. It's clear that Donovan was not only there at one point but enjoyed herself, because she so lovingly portrays the island and its flavor. I adored both the hero and heroine. Their tale was novella-length but felt complete, fleshed-out and satisfying. For what it's worth, I'd say I enjoyed this story the most out of the three.

Just One Taste (4 of 5 stars)
The title of this story is apt in so many ways. We get a brief glimpse into the world of the Donovan siblings, who reside in Boulder, Colorado and run a brewery together. The three are vastly different yet intriguing; the glimpse given makes it clear that they will inspire wonderful full-length tales. This novella sets up the trilogy to follow, but works well enough on its own when keeping the following in mind: the tale is about letting loose and doing something a little bit crazy every once in a while. As freaking ALWAYS, Dahl's characters are absolutely magnetic and genuine.

All told, I'd easily recommend this anthology to contemporary romance lovers of all stripes.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars 
(overall, not an average)


  1. I am not a big fan of short stories but sometimes they work, and when they work I do like them :=)

  2. Yeah, normally I'm not such a big fan of romantic short stories. A good romance often takes time and effort to build, y'know?


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