Francesca Marcelli married at eighteen -- right on schedule, according to her warm, colorful family, who have always said a beauty like Francesca need never worry about finding love. But a few years later, finding herself on her own with a wide open future ahead of her, she pursues her educational passions -- with a risky experiment that takes her straight into the arms of playboy CEO Sam Reese. Delighted by Francesca's interest in a no-strings relationship, Sam suddenly finds himself needing her outside the bedroom when a secret from his past lands on his doorstep. But Francesca soon has a secret of her own to tell -- a bombshell that will force the diehard bachelor to show his true colors. Are there "I do's" in Sam and Francesca's future? Only if she can persuade him that home truly is where the heart finds happiness.
This is the second book in Susan Mallery’s ‘Marcelli Sisters of Pleasure Road’ series.
In this second novel Francesca Marcelli is the protagonist. Francesca is fraternal twin to Brenna– both girls were married in a joint wedding when they were 18. Brenna divorced her no-good hubby in book #1, but Francesca’s husband left her widowed at the age of 21 when he died in a car accident.
We only got the bare facts about Francesca in the first novel – and I was under the impression that her widowhood left her so devastated that at the age of 27 she had yet to resume her love life. In ‘The Sassy One’ it’s actually revealed that Francesca was unhappily married to her husband, Todd. Apparently Todd was only interested in Francesca as arm-candy, so when she found herself widowed Francesca decided to reclaim her self-confidence and self-worth and go back to University to get her degree, and PhD.
This is a bit of cop-out. I think this novel could have been a lot more interesting if Mallery had Francesca painted as the grieving widow – reluctant to lose her heart because she still loves her dead husband. It seems so easy, like a romance scapegoat to just say; “oh, she never really loved her first husband”.
My biggest problem with ‘The Sassy One’ is that the plot really overshadows the romance.
Francesca has known Sam Reese all of 48 hours when Sam’s ex-wife dumps him with a 12-year-old daughter he never knew existed so that she can live the high life in Europe with her younger lover. It’s quite a whammy. And a double-whammy that Francesca not only decides to keep seeing Sam, but she freely offers her time and babysitting skills to help him out. Keep in mind that Francesca has only known Sam for 2 dates. True, there was mind-blowing sex – but no way does that explain why she’s so willing to stick around through this bombshell. Especially after she just finished explaining to Sam that she wants no-strings-attached sex.
This bombshell plot comes too soon into Francesca and Sam’s relationship – Mallery gives them no breathing room. It’s all helter-skelter from the moment Sam’s daughter, Kelly, walks through the door and readers never get a chance to get to know Sam and Francesca without the intense plot overshadowing their relationship.
No matter how sweet some moments between them are, the plot/character ratio is totally out of whack in this book. And for that reason it’s totally implausible when Sam finds himself falling in love with Francesca… I can’t help but think his loving her had more to do with gratitude at his neediest moment rather than genuine affection, no matter how much Mallery tries to ram the latter down our throats;
A noise made him look up. He saw Francesca standing in the doorway of the house. She wore shorts and a shirt. Her hair was loose and a little messy. There was a Band-Aid on one finger and a smudge on her cheek. She shouldn’t have looked beautiful. She shouldn’t have looked anything.Surprisingly enough, I will be reading book #3. Mostly because Mallery has set-up Brenna’s romance from the first and that one holds the most appeal for me.