Tuesday, November 8, 2011

ARC Review: Promises, Promises

Promises, Promises
Erica James
Contemporary Fiction
Sourcebooks Landmark/November 1, 2011

From the author's website ~

'I Must Stand Up for Myself More…’ promises Maggie Storm who spends her days cleaning houses for people who often have more money than manners. Married to a man with as much sex appeal as Mr Blobby, she dreams of a life straight from the pages of a romantic novel.

‘My Head Must Rule Over My Heart…’ promises Ella Moore who, determined never to let her heart get the better of her again, is recovering from seven wasted years of failing to win over the daughter of the man with whom she wanted to spend the rest of her life.

‘No More Women…’ promises Ethan Edwards who, to distract himself from the depressing sham of his marriage, is a repeat offender when it comes to turning to other women for sexual consolation. But when Ella appears unexpectedly in his life, he finds himself turning to her for very different reasons.

Erica James has written a smart, funny and sometimes painful look at the intersecting lives of three people from seemingly different backgrounds. Maggie Storm cleans houses for the wealthy snobs who looks down on her. Ella Moore has a little more credibility but is still considered the hired help. And Ethan Edwards attempts to continue paying for these luxuries while knowing, deep down, he has to make some serious changes.

The story is not a romance so if you're looking for lots of page time with a hero and heroine, this isn't it. What this novel does show is how people are willing to settle for something that doesn't make them happy. They get stuck in that rut of sameness, afraid to try for something different and possibly far better than what they have. Such is the case with Maggie. She is married to a man who barely notices her, takes her for granted and leaves her to fantasizing about warm beaches and hot men. Maggie's changes seemed dramatic but what she does is become the woman she was meant to be but was hidden under self-doubt and fear of the unknown. Maggie's a character who is easy to relate to and even easier to cheer on.

Ella Moore is in the process of starting over. She recently ended a long-term relationship with a man she loved. It was made destructive by his lack of discipline of his daughter and her destructive actions towards Ella. Ella bothered me in a few ways. I didn't get why, when she had made a clean break from her ex, that she then decides to give him another chance. She came across as an intelligent woman but concerning her ex, she was easily manipulated. She was more difficult to sympathize with since she kept making the same mistakes.

Ethan Edwards, oh boy. Yes, his wife is a bitch but it doesn't excuse his affairs/flings/one-night stands. And he knows it so he's trying to turn over a new leaf which was made difficult to believe when he starts stalking watching Ella work as she's painting in his home. Ethan tells Ella he wants to be friends and I have to give him credit for being honest with her about his infidelities. But in the end, I couldn't help but feel he had gotten what he deserved when it came to his bitch of a wife. Luckily for him, he has a life-changing event that gives him the push he needs to really turn over that new leaf and start fresh.

Circumstances conspire to cause Maggie, Ella and Edward to reevaluate their lives and finally decide to take that step, making changes that were long overdue. This was more evident for Maggie and Edward that it was for Ella. For Ella, it was more about going back to the beginning and focusing on herself again.

I had said this wasn't a romance but there are some romantic elements throughout the story. The romance simply isn't the focus so much as the by-product of the changes the characters make to their lives. The journey they each take to get to that change is challenging but worth it in the end. It's an interesting look at what happens when you are willing to take that leap into the unknown and rely on yourself for your own happiness.

Rating: B


  1. Sounds like an okay book, but not one I'd read ^_^; Thanks for the review, Les!

  2. Interesting book, Leslie. I've been enjoying women's fiction more lately and I'm curious as to how Erica James deals with Ethan's character and his not-so sympathetic problems. Thanks for the review.

  3. nath ~ It's not for everyone but it was a nice change from my usual reads.

    Hils ~ While I wasn't exactly enamored with Ethan by the end of the book, he does change & has the potential to continue improving himself.