Review will be cross posted on my blog Chasing Empty Pavements
I haven't read a contemporary women's fiction/romance novel in a while and I'm happy to report that my thirst for the genre was quenched with Charlie on the Rocks. Dvorak's writing style and witty quips reminded me of the some of my favorite contemporary romance writers like Tracey Garvis-Graves, Elin Hildebrand, Kristen Hannah and Barbara Delinsky. For a debut novel, Dvorak certainly has a way with words.
There were quite a few things to love about this novel. First, Charlotte Daniels could be me. The way she thinks, acts, talks…it's like a walking replica of me in a sense. I love that I can relate to her on such an intimate level…but that makes what happens to her in the novel that much more devastating. I love the whole idea of this woman who takes an innocent hobby and turns it into a multi-million dollar career (and has everything she could ever want) but can't quite cope with her dark past. She clings onto what and who she thinks is her savior when some distance and hindsight would prove to be a far healthier choice.
Connor Owens. When I first read the description of him, I immediately thought of Gerard Butler or Jeffery Dean Morgan. Both have that sexy, older-ish man look to them and they clean up VERY well. By the end of the novel, I'm truly convinced that both of them would make excellent Connor Owen's if a movie was ever made. (OMG. How amazing would that be?!) Besides his devilishly good looks, I love Connor. Is he like Christian Grey? Yes… and in fact I think in a way he was modeled on him but there really are some big differences. While the basic elements are similar (CEO of a company, young, handsome, charming), Connor doesn't neccessairly have the darkness to him that Christian Grey does. It's kind of a "what you see, is what you get" kind of thing with Connor which is totally how he presents himself. He sees Charlotte, he want's Charlotte and he believes he'll do whatever it takes to get Charlotte. But he's a good, kind man deep down but I can't honestly say the same about Christian Grey. I think the biggest thing to recognize here though is that both Connor Owens and Christian Grey are attractive men with strong personalities and for some reason… those factors make for an extremely attractive character.
I loved that Dvorak had this subplot of Charlotte's brother running throughout the book. I think it added another layer to Charlotte that is easy to see why and how she became who she is. And even though her brother, Alex, isn't an active character in the novel, he sure comes alive on the page for me. I can see him bantering with Charlotte, trying to protect her from things like a protective older brother would. I also thought the twist towards the end was great. There was this feeling of something big happening throughout the entire novel and when the big reveal happened, I was like… Oh my goodness. I really loved the development of the characters and Charlotte and Connor's relationship. I thought Dvorak handled it masterfully, with tact and with enough sexual tension to be palpable. By the end, I really felt like the two of them loved and respected each other and that maybe Charlotte would get her happy ever after, after all.
As with any novel, I think there's room for improvement. Whether it's a novel that's published by one of the big six, self-published or even my own work…there are always going to be things that could have been improved on or areas that someone feels was lacking. For a debut novel, I think this is a strong novel with superb writing and a huge indication of the talent Dvorak has. She has a bright future ahead of her and while some characters could have been further expanded and some plot lines explored more in-depth, I have to say I'm extremely impressed with this novel! I loved it. I love Charlotte and Connor and I can't wait to read more of Dvorak's work!
This is a fast-paced, shorter read and I highly recommend it for fans of contemporary romance/women's fictions or anyone a fan of authors like Elin Hildebrand, Kristen Hannah, Tracey Garvis-Graves, Barbara Delinsky, etc.
*Disclaimer--While I truly loved this book and the writing, I do want to make aware that I know the author and have read this novel in various stages before publication.