published by Harlequin (Harlequin KISS) in January 2014
She'd got his number…luckily!Genre: Category romance, Contemporary
For savvy antiques dealer Rowan Dunn life is good— until a passport error gets her deported back to South Africa! Stranded at the airport, Rowan can remember only two phone numbers, —her parents' (definitely not an option!) and her best friend's brother's. As much as she hates it, Rowan knows she has no choice. It's time to call Seb Hollis and ask for help…
Seb is even sexier than Rowan remembers —and just as infuriating! He's always pushed her buttons, but at least now she knows how to push them back. Maybe it's time to start sleeping with the enemy— even though Rowan's sure there won't be a whole lot of sleeping going on…!
The Story: Rowan Dunn comes from a family of academics and while her parents and brother are reserved, she feels a lot, is very emotional. As such, Rowan never felt like she belonged and as soon as she had the chance, i.e. right after high school, she left to travel the world. She hasn't been back home in nine years and have no plans to... that is until she gets deported back to South Africa due to a visa transgression. Back on South Africa soil with no money and a dead cell phone, Rowan has no choice than to call for back-up and the only two numbers she remembers are her parents and her best friend's home. Except her best friend is out of town and it's now the brother who lives there.
Seb Hollis grew up with Rowan and to him, it was like having another pesky little sister. He never understood why she antagonized her parents so much. It's true they didn't understand her, but they were there for her unlike his mother who abandoned her family to travel the world. When he gets Rowan's phone call asking him to lend her money for a plane ticket to London, Seb refuses. The only plane ticket he'll buy her is to Cape Town where he intends to keep her till her parents return from their trip.
Rowan and Seb had always pushed each other's buttons and that hasn't changed. What neither expected though is the other to look so much better and be sexier. Suddenly, there's another kind of tension between them, one that can lead only to one thing...
My Opinion: I didn't use to be a very big category romance reader and that's mainly due to the length of the books. However, that changed in the past few years, since category romance became one of my source for contemporary romance, but also because I discovered the SuperRomance line which suits me more than Blaze and Presents. When Harlequin announced their new line, KISS, with its cute and colorful covers, I was excited... but we all know how it turned out ^_^; One good thing though that came out of this is that I discovered Ms Wood :) In 2013, I read her three contributions to the KISS line and really enjoyed them all... which entitled her my pick for "Best new-to-me author" and put her on my auto-buy authors list :)
I have to say, even if Ms Wood hadn't been on my auto-buy authors list, I would probably have picked up The Last Guy She Should Call based on the blurb :) I'm a fan of the "falling in love with my best friend's sibling" theme, because it often means a shared childhood and funny anecdotes... and it was definitively the case in The Last Guy She Should Call. What made the story even more interesting is that Rowan and Seb hadn't seen each other in nine years, so upon meeting again, they had to adjust to the adult version and deal with their attraction... and I thought they handled that situation very well and with maturity. I really liked that feeling of familiarity, but at the same time, newness - seeing each other in a different light, it all contributed to a sizzling chemistry between Rowan and Seb :)
I also enjoyed the characters very much. I understand Rowan's need for independence and admire what she's made of herself. I would never have the guts to leave everything behind and travel the world as she did. I would love to, but wouldn't be able to. Her baggage was quite interesting as well, not being understood by her family. Also needing more emotionally, than what they could give her. What I liked is that although she tried to build walls to protect herself, she wasn't able to and she still wants this close relationship with her parents. What I mean is she didn't become jaded and cynical... As for Seb, he was a yummy hero :) Things came naturally for him, so he didn't really understand Rowan, but he made an effort. He also had some mother issues, being abandoned by her... and that's what has prevented him from opening himself. That mother issue was a bit too convenient for the story, i.e. Rowan and his mother both travel the world, but in the end, I think he handled it well. Also, I don't think Rowan needs to travel that much... what she needs most is to be loved and Seb does.
While I enjoyed the characters and their romance, I felt like we didn't see much of the story. I would have loved to see more interactions between Seb and Rowan, more concrete scenes such as Rowan bartending, the night she accompanied Seb to a function, the dinner with her parents. Instead, everything was mentioned. It seems to me Ms Wood focused too much on the internal conflicts and as a result, the story felt very passive... and that's why the grade for The Last Guy She Should Call wasn't higher.
And something I was wondering while reading The Last Guy She Should Call, although it's not specifically aimed at Ms Wood... Is it possible to have an academic family whose members are not cold and reserved?
My Grade: B+. In a very short time, Ms Wood has become one of my favorite category romance authors. Her books and writing style just work for me :)