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Checkmate by R. L. Mathewson

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Neighbor from Hell #3

R. L. Mathewson
Contemporary Romance
Published in 2012

H/h - Connor O'Neil/Rory James
Setting: Present time.

Read in Nov, 2012.
My rating:

                                              [spoiler alert]

Hmm, what to write... what to write, hmmm... First of all, Checkmate was more of a disappointment for me. I spend at least 50% of it trying to like Rory and Connor really hard. I did enjoy here and there and sometimes their banters but mostly, it was hard for me to enjoy because no matter what, adults acting like kids, being insane and irresponsible, acting impulsively and not caring for other’s feelings is just not fun, certainly not for 300 or so pages. I’ve been thinking for the last 10 days about what to write in my review since the story was all over the place!

The book opens up with different scenes over the 25 years since Rory and Connor met at age 4 and how their life-long enmity started. I can honestly say they have been stuck at that age ever since. In body, yes they grew but emotionally, 4 yrs. olds. I had no idea how bad this is gonna get when suddenly we start seeing and reading stuff from past and present, things they’d done to each-other, things they’d done to people which scared the sh*t outta them and scared them for life!!! Their town knows them to be something of a… I don’t know how to express the way things were portrayed about Rory and Connor but there is no good way to explain their deeds. It did require a lot of my imaginations to understand some of this or that which were implied here and there that they’d done either to each-other or to other people. They made spectacles of themselves everywhere they went, and always in a bad, humiliating way. They have been in jail, together, for times that you wouldn’t wanna count (and I don’t know how they can live without police stalking them for being mentally imbalanced). Every food shop, grocery stores… EVERY FREAKIN’WHERE there is a horror story to tell about Rory and Connor, be it fighting, breaking down things etc etc etc. So, it becomes hard for me to understand that how they are still living a ‘normal’ life. Well, who am I kidding? Their life isn’t normal, in no way!!

Connor loves to hate Rory, torment Rory and yet, in his mind, he also cares for Rory (don’t ask me because I don’t know what to say)! He has beein in love with her since 18, but she never knew when he went to propose and ended up in Canada, in jail with her while she was rip-roaring drunk and didn’t know where the hell she was and whadda hell happened. It was her birthday BTW. Don’t know much about Connor’s side of the family because apart from his douchebaggery with Rory and her family, his were pitifully ignored. He probably had a mother, and a sister but I can’t remember at the moment. The narrative was heavily emphasized on Rory’s family because hers connects with the Bradfords from her mother’s side.

Rory’s family consists of 5 immature, big baby, eat-it-all brothers and a dictator-like father. She wanted to make her father happy but apparently nothing she does makes her father happy, ever. And she tries harder to show she doesn’t care, that she can be like one of his sons, dressing and mostly acting like a tomboy. Her ex bfs never treated her like a woman, never bought her flowers and took her to special dates. Rory is beautiful (or it was said that she was) but it seems like apart from Connor, no one sees her that way. This did make me confused from time to time. Sometimes it was said she was vulnerable about it, that she’s beautiful and her bfs took her for granted. *headscratch* But I knew she was crazy when I read that she named her fierce dog as ‘Bunny’. Sad business, that... Tsk, tsk, tsk!

Soooo, hmm... Rory and Connor both are in the construction area, and have their own companies. Rory’s brothers work for her (I could never keep their names straight since they all acted, sounded and felt the same- molded after the Bradfords, only not as sexy and adorable as Jason) but of course her father doesn’t think she can successfully pull it off. Connor, on the other hand, is planning away to snatch the farm (mainly James brothers) from her and leave her jobless; or better yet, make her work for him! This new contract could be the milestone of success for both of them. But at the day of the signing, Rory finds out that Connor is there as she knew he’d be, ruining her chances as he’s ruined her life since the beginning of time... erm, since aged 4. Funnily enough, the person hiring them to work for remodeling a big mansion for a grand hotel wants them both in the job since they don’t have much time before opening. Everything needs to be done fast and they want both Rory and Connor’s people on the job. Seeing the kind of money they’d get and how this’d be a grand thing for their respective companies, both agree that they can work together for 5 months and not kill each-other over this job.

And so starts more of their douchebaggery, who can run down whom on the work site. BTW: as you can already guess, Connor and Rory are neighbors, live in the same-styled Victorian house, which they’ve remodeled as their choice. They can come and go as they wish and Connor does everything to annoy the hell outta Rory. Of course, Rory hates it and had it not for his bad boy sexy looks about which she’d been fantasizing over the years, she might’ve killed him by now... Do I sound too confusing in my review? I’m sorry but I’m just trying to tell you what had happened over and over and over and over in the story. It was nothing but what overblown, scary, annoying thing they did to each-other, some very scary memory reminiscing from both, things that NEVER ever bug them or their family but leaves people around them traumatized. OMG, at one point I wanted to beat both Rory and Connor up because I couldn’t take their activities anymore.

At present, Connor was planning away Rory’s downfall cheerily and Rory trying to fight back. Both are always ready for anything and everything; be it a punctured tire, stolen cocoa (of which Rory is practically insane about), starting a fight, doing something childish or embarrassing (not that they had any embarrassment over the things they did to each-other over the years, amazing, that!) scaring the sh*t outta people.

Sorry but it all comes down to them scaring the living sh*t outta normal people around them!!!!

So, you can see why I spent the 50% trying to like them and failing miserably. Nothing felt funny or sexy. Connor was a total nightmare where relationships are concerned, a big NO NO, since he has always wanted Rory but knew it’ll never happen between them. He dumped women left and right because none could ‘lighten up his day’ as Rory did. He was even d*ck enough to admit that he had a few really good gfs, who could’ve made him happy but of course, he’s a d*ck and so, dumped them. For all her ‘toughness’, Rory, to me, came off something of a doormat when it came to relationships. All the blame were given to the men who apparently always treated her like sh*t (later Connor or Rory’s brothers would beat the living hell outta them after the break ups, sounds absolutely wonderful!). This part kinda reminded me of Sudden Response because relationship-wise (minus the brothers), Connor and Rory did sound as same as the H and h of that story, though they were childhood friends, and not enemies. I wasn’t impressed with them either.

Then an idea struck Connor as a part of his plan to bring Rory down, and that would be to make Rory act as his loving, devoted girlfriend. I couldn’t see the point of this, but for Connor, it was a pathetic way to get more of Rory’s attentions and make her stick to him, with him all.day.long. Can’t say Rory was sad about it, even though she fought tooth and nail to not give into Connor’s ridiculous plan. Sex was not a part of that bargain. It was after Rory had an accident on the job-site that their relationship went a bit less tormenting from both sides. Connor ends up taking care of Rory, and sleeping with her too. He was already coming and going as if it was also his place, but this sort of changed something, as did the kiss they shared beforehand. Both are now aware of each-other in a different way, rather than someone to kill and dump secretly (not my words, BTW, it’s all in their heads... secretly of course! *facepalm*).

Sex becomes an obvious (and very addictive) part soon enough. Even that was waaay overblown. I remember one particular weekend that they spend having sex almost every nook and cranny of the house, which only got eye-rolling from me. I could say that sex scenes were hot, at least some of it and Rory and Connor’s chemistry was pretty good, only if I could actually like them a bit more. Jason and Trevor also stopped by because Rory was still rabid about making some special suits that were her own planning, while Connor was stubborn about not letting her. So Rory planned to bring her cousins in (both are also in construction) to hasten things up... But Connor gets the wind of it but he was too besotted by Rory to do anything at that point. Yep, the SOB was always in love and after mind-blowing sex, Rory wrapped him around her little fingers... well, almost. I had hard time finding the ever adorable Jason in this book. He sounded and acted different, and I wasn’t amused by his antics or Trevor’s for that matter. I skipped a whole lot of food-related douchebaggery this time and eye-rolled my way while doing it.

I specifically got mad at what Connor did to Rory’s secretary and later on, Rory couldn’t find what was so wrong with it that he has to be angry over the whole matter!! I’m not even going into whatever her brothers did to the poor man. I actually took a time off at 70% when I felt really frustrated and very pissed. This was the point when Connor was a total goner but Rory was stubborn enough to not care. I wanted to blame her, yet, seeing their scintillating (and loco) history together, couldn’t. There was a horrible trust issue going on that I didn’t know how they’d overcome or if it’d be believable for even a minute. I just wanted my attentions diverted for a while afterwards. When I got back, things felt better and the story picked up. Connor needed to confess about that messy 18th birthday of Rory’s and whatever happened that day. Rory was shocked by Connor’s admissions and actually how much he really cared for her over the years in his own perverted, loco way. She’s more stunned to find that she loves and adores it. I felt that finally something real and interesting was going on between them!

There was also the matter of their old school bud and Connor’s best friend, Andrew’s fatal illness. He also works with Connor. Connor kept it a secret because of him and let the man work as he wishes or as much as he could and Rory assumed that he’s just letting the man be lazy. This also made some trouble in their relationship. But when Rory learns about it (in a very emotional scene with her and Connor that made me all teary-eyed), she decides to take care of it in her own way. Ummm, it was kind of... umm, funny? Odd? Dunno, but she was determined that Andy won’t die, and she’s stubborn enough to make sure that he doesn’t, if it means bringing in all her brothers and two Bradford cousins to complete the job; all because Connor was very sad and feeling helpless over the whole matter. Rory got sad when she finds out that she’s not pregnant as she suspected to be, though Connor is relieved. Later, she does something special for Connor to make sure that Andrew is healing well. It was a good surprise I must say.

There are more of the crazies in the end that inevitably involved Rory’s father and brothers, Jason and Trevor, Haley and Zoe (woohoo!), new babies in the Bradford family (yay!), more Bradfords, Bradfords and food, Connor being beaten up by Rory’s brothers (don't ask), police and jail, public sex (don’t ask!) etc. etc. etc. Yah, last few chapters were much more fun than the rest. I so adored seeing Haley and Zoe. Still, I would only recommend this book to hardcore RLM fans. Of course, you might not be bugged by the things that bugged me and can pick this up. I was kinda happy when these two nutcases found their happy ending. They did belong together, even if for the safety of the others in this world and even if it was in a police station and Rory was about to drop her baby... or not... Hmmm, that was a good little trick! 3.75 stars.


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