I wasn’t planning to write a review for One Week Girlfriend by Monica Murphy. I was planning to write it up as one of a handful of books I’d read recently about which I didn’t have much to say. Then it turned out I actually had quite a lot to say.
First, though, the blurb:
Temporary. That’s the word I’d use to describe my life right now. I’m temporarily working double shifts—at least until I can break free. I’m temporarily raising my little brother—since apparently our actual mother doesn’t give a crap about either of us. And I always end up as nothing but the temporary girlfriend—the flavor of the week for every guy who’s heard the rumor that I give it up so easily.
At least Drew Callahan, college football legend and local golden boy, is upfront about it. He needs someone to play the part of his girlfriend for one week. In exchange for cash. As if that’s not weird enough, ever since he brought me into his world, nothing really makes sense. Everyone hates me. Everyone wants something from him. And yet the only thing Drew seems to want is . . . me.
I don’t know what to believe anymore. Drew is sweet, sexy, and hiding way more secrets than I am. All I know is, I want to be there for him—permanently.
I have enjoyed Ms. Murphy’s books in the past, when she wrote fluffy Regency erotic romance as Karen Ericson. She’s definitely got writing chops, and I got hit hard by the “OMG this book is such delicious crack” train fairly early on. The plot is patently ridiculous, and the title alone pretty much spells it out for the reader, and the audio was only six hours long, so it was not a huge investment of my time. By themselves, Drew and Fable were likable enough characters, and I was pretty much with them, barring a few problematic elements about which more below, until the end when the crack train turned into the “WTF did I just read” wagon and plunged straight into the dark woods of Do Not Want.
My first problem with the book was the fact that Murphy applies the foreshadowing with all the delicacy and subtle flare of a hammer to the back of the skull. I knew almost immediately what Drew’s angst was, and spent the book in a state of mild impatience, waiting for Fable to catch up.
So let’s just talk about that angst. It comes in the form of Adele, Drew’s stepmother. I have met cardboard cutouts with more depth. Adele couldn’t have been more of a shrieking harpy villain if she’d paraded around with her henchmen trying to figure out how to go about actually skinning puppies. I couldn’t take her seriously because I wondered how anyone who encountered her could fail to see that she wasn’t even trying to hide her sociopathic tendencies.
I absolutely get why Drew suffers so much. I don’t want to minimize his suffering, but I didn’t feel there was any nod toward character growth from him. He focuses a lot on Fable, on how much he wants her, but he can’t have her because his man pain is too intense. Then at the end of the book, he runs off, thus allowing us to break the story into multiple books and milk it for all it’s worth. And Fable, rather than conclude that Drew needs a good dose of therapy, instead comes to the conclusion that he secretly wants her to save him.
Excuse me while I call bullshit.
I get the power of the “Only I understand his pain and only I can fix him” fantasy that’s common in romance novels. I also tend to overlook the fantasy when it’s a white knight rescuing a Cinderella from her circumstances. I think that’s because in the second case, real life has taught me that even if I did have a Prince Charming, if I’m not ultimately happy with how my life is playing out, there isn’t a thing my white knight is going to do to make things better, whereas the “I can change him” narrative is one reason why women stay with abusive men.
I never thought that Drew was abusive to Fable in the same way that, say, the love interest in that awful book about the myriad hues of a certain color was. However, he clearly needed to work on his own shit, and the last thing he needed was for someone to fix him. Especially someone who was the good girl to his stepmother’s evil sociopathic slut.
The audiobook narration wasn’t particularly awesome. Kate Rudd does a fine job reading the part of Fable, but Luke Daniels over emoted when he read Drew. Because of that, Drew came off like a bit of a dork who needed his lunch money taken. I never found him particularly sexy.
I guess I’d recommend this book if you’re totally on board the whole New Adult craze and don’t mind reading about protagonists who have no friends but each other and seem determined to stick it out with each other in an unhealthy, destructive cycle. I don’t buy that as a romance concept, and so I’ll pass on the rest of this series.
Final Grade: D