Wanting What You Get
by Kathy Love
(Zebra, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-8217-7613-4
Wanting What You Get is the second book in a trilogy about the Stepp sisters. You don’t have to have read the first book (Getting What You Want) to understand the second. I purchased Wanting What You Get because the back blurb described the heroine as a shy, plump librarian who was unpopular in high school. I thought “great, a book with a ‘real’ woman as the main character.” After all, how many of us are tall, thin, drop dead gorgeous, and didn’t suffer teenage angst?

Boy, was I disappointed with the ‘real woman’.

As the middle of the three sisters, Ellie Stepp has always been shy, unathletic, and teased for her weight. Now an adult, she is the town’s librarian and is still shy and plump. Ever since high school, Ellie’s had a crush on Mason Sweet – former high school football player and currently the town mayor. Ellie and Mason are the maid of honor and best man in Ellie’s older sister’s wedding. During the wedding, Ellie is surprised when Mason flirts with her.

Upon finding out the city council wants to cut the library budget for a new high school football field, Ellie decides to appeal to Mason for help. While drunk, Mason offers to save the library budget if Ellie sleeps with him. A virgin, Ellie decides sleeping with the man she’s idolized all these years is too good an opportunity to pass up. (Personally, I thought she should charge him with sexual harassment.) No big surprise that they become lovers.

Throughout the book, Ellie remains a doormat. Along with many heroes of romance novels, Mason is not ready for a committed relationship, so he decides it would be best if they kept their relationship secret. Not only is Ellie ok with Mason blackmailing her into sex, she decides that she’s ok with whatever boundaries he sets in the relationship. Which really means that Mason expects sex whenever he wants it without having to provide any romance or stimulating conversation.

Multiple times through out the book Ellie tells Mason and herself that she’ll take whatever he is willing to give. All that Mason’s willing to give includes no dating, Ellie dropping what she’s doing to run to Mason’s place when he calls her, telling no one they are “seeing” each other, and Mason drinking to excess every day. Ellie is too clueless to notice for the first 200 pages that he is an alcoholic. Once she finally figures it out, she dumps Mason until he gets his act together.

Mason’s drinking problem is realistically explained. Mason was never good enough for his father and was never ambitious enough for his ex-wife. Ultimately, Mason accepts responsibility for his drinking problem and joins AA. However, the ending where Ellie and Mason get together is very disappointing and doesn’t reflect well on Ellie.

Ellie’s lack of self-respect made Wanting What You Get very difficult to finish. Save yourself the time. Too bad I can’t get those hours back again.

--Terry Lawrence

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