If you find yourself talking to Jayne Dandy, keep the conversation on Star Wars and rubber ducks—best not to mention men, dating, or S-E-X. Because Jayne is fine with the way things are: writer of obituaries and garage sale ads by day, secret scribe of adventures in distant galaxies by night. But her crippling fear of intimacy has made her the butt of jokes since forever, and hiding behind her laptop isn’t going to get her lightsaber lit.After her therapist recommends that she write erotica as a form of exposure therapy, Jayne joins forces with pen and paper to combat the demons that won’t let her kiss and tell. Unexpectedly downsized at work, she adopts a pseudonym and secretly self-publishes one of her naughty books to make ends meet. When her adorable, long-time friend Luke, co-owner of the popular Portland food truck Luke Piewalker’s, hears she’s been demoted, he insists on hiring her to sling éclairs and turnovers at his side. Her secret must be kept, but sparks ignite between them, sending Jayne and her X-Wing into a tailspin that will either make her face down her neuroses or trigger a meltdown of Death Star proportions.
Source: Author in exchange for an honest review.
Three and a half stars: A funny book that takes full advantage of the Portland setting.
Jayne sidles up to Piewalker's Food Truck hungrily anticipating her morning apple turnover with whipped cream, and if she is honest, she is also eager to see Luke, the owner of Piewalker's. Jayne loves to geek out and talk Stars Wars with Luke, but she won't admit that she might have feelings for him other than friendship. Jayne is terrified to enter into any kind of sexual relationship, but she doesn't know why. Even though she is fearful of sex, Jayne secretly writes terrific erotica novels. When she self publishes her novel, her life changes practically overnight, forcing herself to make some grown up decisions. Will she be able to overcome her neurotic tendencies and take a chance on love?
What I Liked:
- Neurotica despite its title is for the most part a light, funny, romantic read that follows a young woman trying to move into adulthood and overcome the trauma of her past. This is a novel all about growth and transformation and letting go of excess baggage. I enjoyed watching Jayne change as she meandered her way through life.
- Jayne is a unique, shy girl with all kinds of quirks. She is terrified of sex and intimacy, yet she writes brilliant erotica on the sly. It was a strange irony to have a best selling erotica author who was afraid of sex. For those of you thinking this is a book with lots of sex and erotica, I assure you its not. Even though Jayne writes erotica, there aren't any snippets from her books at all in the novel, and they are no sex scenes. This sounds like an oxymoron, but believe me it works.
- For me, what really made this book shine was the setting of Portland, Oregon. Portland is where I currently reside, so I was delighted to find this book was set here. I thought Ms. Gordon did a brilliant job of depicting Portland with all its eccentricities from the fashion, the culture to the love of food carts. Ms. Gordon bring forth many of the popular places in the city while capturing Portland's flavor. She even goes so far as to talk about the weather, and the importance of environmental conservation, which is a near and dear issue to Portlanders. This was a book where I totally felt the author got it right when writing about Portland. I only wished that Piewalker's (loved that name) was a real food cart. Perhaps it was inspired by one? I need to find out...
- I enjoyed the geek culture. Luke and Jayne are huge Star Wars fans. I laughed at how far fans take their love for these films, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Luke and Jayne geeking out over Star Wars.
- The romance is pleasant and light. It is based on a friendship and it takes its time to slowly develop into something more. It takes its sweet time. No need to worry about insta love with this one. I was worried that a love triangle might be in the works, but thankfully, it never develops. The romance was realistic and nice, except for a small hurdle toward the end.
- Jayne is in therapy during the novel as she is trying to work through her baggage and intimacy issues. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the relationship Jayne developed with her therapist, and I especially liked the turn of events toward the end with this relationship. The therapist delivers some brilliant, heart felt advice to Jayne regarding dealing with her mother. I thought this was one of the highlights of the book.
- There is plenty of humor and snark in this one that made me snicker. I always enjoy a book that makes me laugh.
And The Not So Much:
- While I enjoyed the slow building romance, I was frustrated by three things. First, that there was a bit of unnecessary romantic drama toward the end. It was a bit too much and predictable. Second, I disliked that the book abruptly ends right at the sweet spot. Seriously? I waited the whole book for that scene and then the book just ends. It almost felt like a cliffhanger, but it wasn't. Third, when the book opens, Luke and Jayne have already established a friendship. I was hoping that there would be some insight as to how they became friends and all that, but there was nothing. I felt like I was missing a piece of the puzzle.
- Jayne has some big issues with her mother. Jayne's mother is in the middle of an ugly divorce, so she is bitter and nasty. Jayne's mother is not a pleasant person at all, and it was evident that a lot of Jayne's neurotic behavior stemmed from her troubled relationship with her mother. There is a moment of confrontation in the book between Jayne and her mother, where Jayne finally steps up and takes a stand, but after that nothing. I was expecting more resolution with the conflicted mother daughter relationship. In this case, I wasn't hoping for an amicable understanding, not with Jayne's mother, but I wanted something more. It seemed like such an important part of the novel and it felt unresolved.
- Throughout the novel, there are chapters that feature Jayne's sci-fi story. I couldn't really see the point in including these pages and after awhile I found myself skimming them and not even wanting to read them. Jayne's story didn't add anything of major importantance to the main story, and I thought it was boring. I would have actually preferred to see some pages from her best selling erotica novels to see how a girl who was afraid of sex was able to write erotica.
- The ending was a disappointment. It just cuts off right at the best part, and I felt ripped off. I wished that there was more, perhaps an Epilogue down the road or even further development with the final scene.
Neurotica is an interesting romance novel all about growth, change and taking chances. I enjoyed watching Jayne transform. The Portland setting makes this book shine along with plenty of humor. I only wished that there was a bit more development with some of the relationships.
"The rock will serve as a reminder that the sharp stones can be sanded, their jagged edges lessened and tamed. And that every step forward is exactly that: a step forward."
"Just because society dictates certain norms and delivers them on a packhorse of guilt, it doesn't mean we have to climb on. You deserve to be treated with respect by everyone you choose to have in your life. You deserve to be accepted for who you are. You have the right to be yourself because there is only one you."
"My young friend, if someone does not grant you the respect you are due as a human being, no matter what their relationship to you, friend or blood, you have no obligation to suffer their presence in your life."
I received a copy of this book as part of a tour. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.