Park Avenue Player

Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

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It started out like any normal day.

Then the fender bender happened.

The guy I collided with drove an expensive car and was drop-dead gorgeous. Too bad he was also a total jerk. We argued over whose fault it was and any other thing that came out of his condescending mouth.

Eventually, the police came and we went our separate ways. The insurance companies would have to figure things out. I had a job interview to get to anyway—one I was excited about.

Though that excitement changed to disappointment the moment the person interviewing me walked in. The guy from the accident.

Whoops!

Yeah, so I didn’t get the position.

The problem was, I really wanted it. No, I needed it. Anything to get me out of my current career and back into working with kids.

So, even though Hollis LaCroix was as intimidating as he was devastatingly handsome, I went back to see him and begged for a chance.

To my surprise, he gave me a shot taking care of his troubled niece.

At least my attraction to him wouldn’t be able to go anywhere. I wasn’t about to jeopardize my job or the strong bond Hailey and I formed.

But resisting the magnetic pull between us wasn’t that simple. (Then there was our little underwear game—don’t ask.)

We continued to flirt without crossing the line—until it finally happened.

This is the part of the story where we fall in love and live happily ever after, right?

Well, life has a way of throwing some major curveballs.

Ours was one I didn’t see coming.

⭐⭐

Here there be spoilers.

I can’t even.

Full disclosure, I DNFed at 79%/Chapter 40, so these are my impressions up to that point (barring some skimming to the end).

I found Elodie to be thoroughly unlikable. She started out well–I was predisposed to like her through the scene with the accident–but it quickly went downhill. For a woman who proclaims she keeps calm under pressure, she was full of an awful lot of attitude during her interview with Hollis, reacting with a level of immaturity that resulted in the first of many eye rolls. It only got worse when she used Hollis’s information from their accident to track him down and beg for the job after being rejected; that’s a set-up for a suspense/horror scenario right there, not a sweet and funny vehicle for romance.

(Tangentially… why would a man with a Park Avenue address–any man, but especially a wealthy one–be interviewing for a nanny independently? There are agencies for that, and it would make a lot more sense for him to utilize one of those.)

The only moments I really liked Elodie were those she shared with Hollis’s niece, Hailey. Their relationship was sweet and believable, and Elodie came across as someone interesting as long as they were interacting. Ironically, I didn’t like Hailey herself much, but she was a very believable preteen, which was probably why. She still led to some of the best character moments in the story.

I liked Hollis rather more than Elodie… in the beginning. Once the sexual tension started, he grew increasingly more annoying. The will-he-won’t-he back and forth regarding his relationship with Elodie was wearing. I found him far more appealing in the flashbacks with Anna, honestly, which should have been a red flag.

When he really lost me, though, was with the commencement of the underwear game.

I’m sorry. I don’t care how much you’re lusting after a woman or how hard up you are–you don’t steal her underwear and masturbate with it on your face. It’s not hot. It’s skeevy. By the time he was underwear shopping and rubbing the prospective panties against his cheek, I was beyond creeped out. I don’t care that Elodie was ultimately a willing participant in the game–it was still skeevy.

Even during said underwear game, I never really got a sense of tension between them. You knew they were going to end up in bed together at some point, and it was kind of… eh? OK? good for them? When Hollis called his hookup over and Elodie walked in on them, I found her jealousy to be overblown because I really had no sense of passion between them. It felt like the sex was more of an obligation than anything.

I almost DNFed several times, but what finally made me back out of it was the big reveal in chapter 39. Elodie’s best friend, Bree, is really Hollis’s ex, Anna! Gasp! Choke! Shock! Awe!

Gag.

Suddenly it all made sense–there was no passion between Hollis and Elodie because Hollis was still in love with Anna. From that moment on, Elodie became some sort of consolation prize, dangled before Hollis through Anna’s machinations.

And Anna… ugh. I believe she was supposed to be held up as some selfless martyr, as she decided to live with her terminal illness on her own without burdening Hollis with the death of another loved one. News flash: that’s not selfless. It’s selfish. Unilaterally making the decision that he was better off without her and all but breaking him was not merciful. It was not kind, it was not good, it was not acceptable. Up to that point, I liked Bree and Anna. After the reveal, Bree/Anna nosedived into the position of my least favorite character, because I cannot stand manipulation or Messiah complexes.

It didn’t help that the whole thing felt rather turgid; even before I hit the DNF point, I was skimming occasionally. The lack of passion between Elodie and Hollis was only made more glaring by the slow pace of everything, by Hollis’s waffling and Elodie’s general attitude.

This was very obviously not the book for me. I enjoyed the A+ parenting scenes. Unfortunately, they weren’t enough to make up for everything else.

(Unrelated but a general note… it struck me that the title really had nothing to do with the book. Hollis lived on Park Avenue, but he was far from a player. The title promised more fun than the book delivered.)

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