ONE TO LOVE - Michelle Monkou
PRINT | EBOOK
REVIEWER: Janet Caldwell | RATING: B
REVIEW: Headstrong Brenda Toussaint is on a mission to build an equine-assisted therapy center. She is driven by guilt, regret and sheer rebellion of her family empire. Nothing will stand in her way - lack of assets, family support or the fine ex-soccer phenom turned building contractor, Jesse Santiago.
Jesse Santiago was severely injured in a soccer game and is home to rehabilitate and decide if his retirement from professional soccer will be permanent. By default, he becomes the contractor tapped by his ill father to oversee construction of Belinda’s therapy center.
In ONE TO LOVE, Monkou unites two stubborn people determined to “do their own thing” despite the well-meaning interference of family members. Their initial meeting ends with Belinda firing Jesse as building contractor due to his arrogance and her body’s traitorous reaction to him.
Both Belinda and Jesse have controlling personalities which make their relationship very problematic since, by their own admission, neither are seeking a permanent relationship. They are two selfish, self-absorbed people. Belinda focuses on her project and Jesses on his self-pity.
ONE TO LOVE is set in Midway, New York and doesn’t impact the novel. The plot held my interest to the end. However, I experienced some disappointment along the way. Monkou’s writing style is long-winded at times. The first half of the book creeps along, heats up at the mid-point and then rushes to the end. Initially the author focuses extensively on Jesse’s injury and rehab, but once construction begins on the therapy center, mention of his soccer career ceases. The reader is left to awkwardly wonder about Jesse’s recovery and his future career plans. Noticeably absent is detailed information about Brenda’s divorced parents and stepfather. They only receive a cursory mention. An overbearing family matriarch makes a memorable appearance in the beginning and her presence looms in the background. Belinda’s best friends, my favorite characters, are her three cousins who counsel her, harass her and love her unconditionally. They have prominent roles in the novel and I expect they will resurface in future installments about the Meadows family.
Both Belinda and Jesse carry heavy baggage - Belinda’s family name, the public’s career expectations for Jesse and their personal goals. Their odd mutual attraction eventually gives way to a heated union that I actually applauded mainly because I felt they needed to concentrate on something other than themselves. Two cousins are left with stories to share. I hope Monkou does them justice.
19th May 2015 | firstname.lastname@example.org