Not You It’s Me by Julie Johnson

Not You It’s Me started well with a playful tone, but Julie Johnson’s contemporary romance quickly descended into over-the-top plotting that gives Queen of Histrionica (and admitted personal guilty pleasure) Jennifer Ashley a run for her money.

Gemma Summers is in a boring relationship that she hopes to spice up with free courtside basketball tickets, but things go awry when she and jerkface land on the kisscam and he ignores her. Embarrassed, Gemma finds herself swept into a massive clinch by the gentleman sitting next to her. He’s ever so dreamy and just happens to be a reclusive billionaire recently returned from 5 years in self-exile. He’s warm for Gemma’s form, but tells her he doesn’t date. Charming, right? Great start and an excellent execution of a romance trope that should proceed apace. Groundwork laid, the plot makes a sharp left and careens towards crazy town. Gemma and Chase are talked about in the media, Gemma’s awful boyfriend becomes a meme, and faster than you can say, “too many plot elements”, or “the tone does not match the events contained herein”, EVERYTHING spirals out of control and Gemma’s life is subsumed by Chase’s business and family issues. There are:

  1. a mentally unstable cousin (and secret brother!) who resents Chase’s success and has violent, manipulative tendencies, such as murdering Chase’s favourite horse as a child and
  2. hiring a woman to “fall in love” with Chase during college so that the cousin can spy on Chase before she breaks his heart on command, but
  3. she remains obsessed with Chase and makes threatening phone calls to Gemma at the first hint of relationship and
  4. works with Gemma’s gormless ex-boyfriend who has transformed from a run-of-the-mill cheater into an enraged threat to her life who destroys Gemma’s apartment so that
  5. she has to move into Chase’s penthouse for her own protection and bring what can be salvaged from her apartment, although it’s him who makes this determination for her by hiring strangers to sort through her things and trash whatever is ruined.

Things ESCALATE from there, but you get the idea, and it all takes place over a matter of days and before Gemma and Chase have established a relationship beyond each thinking the other is fun to kiss. Gemma takes it all ludicrously in stride. What started as a charming meet cute, and despite a light touch in the writing, turns into two people fighting for their lives together, even though Gemma is the only one of the two main characters acting in a rational fashion. Chase is right, he is in no position to date – hence the title – and she should RUN AS FAR AND AS FAST AS SHE CAN preferably with government protection.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

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