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Senior associate attorney Derrick Swain wants it all: a loving husband, a fulfilling career, and a couple of kids. After years of hard work he’s on the fast track to a promotion. He’s also met the man of his dreams. A week of daily lunch meetings in Central Park provides the perfect setting to get to know him better, and Derrick thinks it won’t be long before they take the next step and go on a date. But instead of asking him out, the object of his affection stops showing up without explanation, leaving him to wonder what went wrong.
As part owner of one of the most prestigious law firms in New York City, Roman Bradford knows that professional success isn’t the be all end all. Although he’s been lucky in life, true love has eluded him for the most part. One too many failed relationships have caused him to be leery of trying again, until he meets a man that can only be described as temptation personified. A few conversations is all it takes for Roman to start believing things will be different this time around. It doesn’t matter that they are boss and employee, or that he’s feeling too much, too fast. Not when he can see the same emotions in Derrick’s eyes. Then life turns on a dime, and Roman has no option but to let his chance at happiness go.
A battle of wills ensues when a life-altering case brings them together a year later. Roman wants to do the right thing by not letting anything happen between them, and Derrick is determined to prove they’re meant to be together. Evidence will be presented and final arguments will be made. Will they be able to come to an agreement, or will they opt to have their potential relationship dismissed?
I really struggled getting through this book.
I typically enjoy Taylor V. Donovan’s work. She writes complex, imperfect characters that I find myself rooting for. But they also put me through the ringer and by the end, I can feel I’ve invested myself, my time, my energy, in to her books and I like the feeling of being rewarded with a great story and strong characters.
Hearsay, for me, lacked that depth I’m used to reading from this author.
In blurb form it might feel like it would be really engaging: 2 lawyers, inter-office romance, “life-altering case”, a secondary twist. But it actually all fell very short.
The lawyers, Roman (a partner) and Derrick (a junior associate), lacked any likability for me. Not only was I not feeling the love, I actually actively DISLIKED Derrick altogether! I think he’s meant to be endearing and starry-eyed. But, he comes across as petulant, selfish, immature, and…frankly, dumb. Roman was not much better…though his grouchiness and cold disposition had reasons behind his behavior, so I’m more forgiving. I was equally disinterested in most of the secondary characters, and again, really disliked a few (especially Tashana, Derrick’s best friend).
There is a LOT of “telling” in this book and seemingly important details just dropped in casually that I found confusing (how long did Roman and Derrick actually know each other? How long did they like each other? At times I thought it was 2 weeks (via lunch time at Central Park), but other times it seemed that details alluded to longer). There are some really preposterous scenarios that I found unbelievable. Behaviors felt very juvenile as did some of the dialogue. There was also a LOT of repetition of ideas and full lines of text (the idea of this law office being very gossipy was driven home again and again…and again…).
But, I think what really took me out of the story was inappropriate mixing of serious subject matter and unbelievable dropping of erotic or “horny” content. In one scenario, Derrick is being told some very distressing news about one of his close friends by Roman. His reaction? He gets hard/aroused. I just found that to be a really odd reaction at that particular time and scene in the story. (though, frankly, Derrick and Roman were walking hard-ons pretty much the entire book).
And when Roman finally tells Derrick his secret (this took forever to get to, btw)…something HUGE…what does Derrick do? He whines about how this ruins his preset life’s plans. Self-centered…so much so, he even annoys himself with his attitude. (Derrick’s POV of himself: “He could be such a selfish prick sometimes he made himself barf.”)
And though I don’t mind a good insta-love…it felt really unnatural in this story. The chemistry between the characters was lacking. And the professions of love, the betrothing themselves to marriage, and the meeting of the “in-laws”…all on the first date was a bit over the top.
Hearsay is book 1 of a trilogy that will continue to include Derrick and Roman’s story. I most likely will not read any further. But who knows…I hate to miss out on something this author puts out, even though this book didn’t work for me.
Title: Hearsay (Bylaws #1)
Author: Taylor V. Donovan
Release Date: May 31, 2014
Purchase Links: Amazon