Last month, Morgan and Whitney Dished about Victoria Dahl’s contemporary romance series starter Good Girls Don't. They are back this week for series second Bad Boys Do. For this installment, readers return to the Donovan Brother’s Brewery to see if the family’s black sheep, Jamie, will be able to find his happily ever after.
Morgan: I will admit I went into this book ready to dislike Jamie Donovan. In Good Girls Don’t, he’s described as such a player — I mean, he ruined his brother’s business deal by sleeping with the client! That kind of behavior is a huge turn-off for me.
Whitney: You know, I felt the same when I started this story, but Dahl totally turns the situation around for me.
Morgan: By illustrating the motivations behind Jamie’s past bad behavior, the author does a great job of making him a multi-dimensional character.
Whitney: It’s great how Dahl shows both sides of him — he is both a fun loving, kind-of ladies’ man and a dedicated business owner. And while Jamie’s passion for the family run brewery comes through, I admit I am most interested in his charm!
“His green eyes twinkled. God, could he just do that on demand? What a terrible and deadly skill.”
Morgan: But this “charm” is a bit of a double-edged sword. It blinds people to the fact that he is more than just a pretty face. Jamie reforms himself almost entirely, but nobody notices. His siblings, Eric and Tessa, still think of Jamie as a screw-up.
Whitney: And the women who he meets at his family’s bar all look at him and think “one night stand”. Even the story’s heroine, Olivia, is fooled at first and thinks he is just an overgrown college kid.
Morgan: I love the scene when she is getting ready to go over to Jamie’s place for brunch. Olivia imagines he is going to feed her Toaster Strudels, Slim Jims and powdered donuts out of a box.
Whitney: Olivia makes such big deal out of what are basically just a few years. I mean, Jamie is in his late twenties and she is thirty-five. That’s nothing!
Morgan: I think it is more than just a chronological age thing. It seems like it is more about emotional maturity. You know the whole having a solid, dependable job. Wearing cardigans buttoned all the way to the top. In bed by 10 o’clock. That kind of maturity.
Whitney: Do I detect some snark there, Morgan? You say “maturity” like it is a bad thing.
Morgan: In Olivia’s case it kind of is — she’s always picked stability over her dreams. She always wanted to be a business consultant and an entrepreneur but instead she has ended up as a college teacher.
Whitney: Not that there is anything wrong with being teacher, but it just isn’t what she wants to do. She was forced into it by her ex-husband. He literally crafted her into the “perfect” wife for his job as a tenured Professor. This meant Olivia had to work on campus in a respectable career, hence her position as an adjunct teacher.
Morgan: That ex, ugh, I hate him! He’s such a worm. He completely overwhelmed Olivia, which was pretty easy to do, after all they got together when she was so young, a college student wowed that her professor was taking interest in her. Then after years of telling her what to do and how to be, Victor starts hooking up with his female student assistants and blames Olivia for his infidelity. He basically says that she pushed him into it.
Whitney: Victor is total scum. It’s a wonder Olivia is even willing to get into the dating pool again after her marriage to Stupid Victor.
Morgan: Well it sure surprises Victor when she does — him and everyone else around her!
Whitney: They all totally deserve a bit of shaking up. Olivia may act like she’s got a foot in the grave, but she’s young at heart.
Morgan: Hey, you can’t deny that she and Jamie certainly aren’t well-matched in the traditional sense. I think that Olivia’s friend Gwen says it best, “[Y]ou said you were trying to ease back into the dating world. This is like shooting yourself out of a canon.”
Whitney: But what a sexy landing pad!
Morgan: For as much as Jamie is out of Olivia’s comfort zone, she is also very different than the women he has dated before.
Whitney: And Jamie is more than ready for a change.
“He’d never slept around as much as everyone suspected, although he’d had some fun in his early twenties. But fun wasn’t an emotion. It was just an experience. And any experience could get boring after a while.”
Morgan: But this isn’t the only change that Jamie has signed himself up for.
Whitney: So true! He’s been trying to convince his brother to expand the family’s bar so that it also includes a restaurant. He’s even taking a class to learn more how to do this successfully. And not only has Jamie left behind his “sleeping around all over town” ways, he’s trying to have a real adult-style relationship with Olivia.
Morgan: It starts off innocently enough ...
Whitney Well not entirely innocently, I mean Jamie comes on to her while she’s teaching his extended-education class!
Morgan: But he doesn’t do it in a way that’s crazy-dirty-sexy. You have to admit it, the nuts and bolts of their relationship include talking late on the phone and going out together to do fun things that Olivia hasn’t had a chance to do since before Stupid Victor.
Whitney: It’s like a classic rom-com movie from the 60’s, like Pillow Talk or Kiss Me Kate. Jamie and Olivia’s romance does include a whole lot of fun get-your-heart-rate-up things too, like riding roller coasters, skinny-dipping and making out on the side of a highway! Jamie helps Olivia remember how to feel alive in some of the most adorable ways possible.
Morgan: All while Olivia is helping Jamie to try and turn his dreams into reality.
Whitney: They really work well together.
Morgan: You know, that’s one of the reasons that I felt that this was much more of a romance-y romance than the series first was. Good Girls Don’t seemed to be more about the journey of the hero and heroine as people. Bad Boys Do is all about Jamie and Olivia figuring out how to be a couple.
Whitney: Not that Jamie and Olivia would admit to being in a relationship. At least not at first.
Morgan: Is it me, or do most of the contemporaries out there have characters with true aversion to labeling relationships? Is it so scary to admit to dating or calling someone your girlfriend/boyfriend?
Whitney: Well, when dating leads to a relationship which everyone expects will lead to you settling down … I can see how that could be a lot of pressure. But Jamie isn’t the only Donovan brother who isn’t entirely upfront about his relationship status.
Morgan: True, we learn about the surprise that Eric’s been keeping up his sleeve in next month’s Real Men Will!
You can check out Morgan and Whitney’s Dish of Good Girl’s Don’t, pick up your own copy of Bad Boys Do in stores now and mark your calendars for Real Men Will which will be the topic of a Dish next month. And as always, for more happily ever afters, be sure to check out our Everything Romance Page!