I did it again. I read another Samantha Chase and hoped for a different outcome. I know. I know. A lot of people say doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity (just fyi, insanity is a legal term, which is determined based off of a person’s ability to tell right from wrong when they’ve committed a crime). This time, I actually got more than 80% through the book thinking that maybe she changed her formula up before realizing that this was just another Montgomery Series book where everyone lives happily ever after without anything being resolved.
Gabriella Martine has worked for The Montgomery Family for five years, putting up with all kinds of abuse at the hands of her boss, Zach Montgomery, and it only gets worse after Zach falls off of a mountain in Alaska and nearly dies. When William Montgomery approaches her about working with Zach from home, she’s leery, but decides to give it a shot. What could she lose?
Zach Montgomery hasn’t had the best year. After nearly dying in Alaska, his body hasn’t been the same and he’s afraid he’s going to be paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life. When Gabriella showed up at his door, he was not happy to see her. Sure, she’s the best assistant he’s ever had, but she’s also the most attractive assistant he’s ever had. For five years they’ve worked together and for five years he’s hid his attraction to her. He definitely does not want her to see him like that.
I enjoyed most of this book. Gabriella and Zach were both sympathetic and likable characters. They’re complex and have dealt with a lot of ridiculous things in the past, but like Return to You there’s almost no character growth, especially on Zach’s part. He starts out the book in a deep funk because he’s spent the last year pitying himself and sabotaging his recovery. Spending a little time with Gabriella helps, but it doesn’t bring him completely out of it, which is fine because life doesn’t work that way, so fiction shouldn’t either. The thing is that as we near the end of the book he lets something that hadn’t been a problem for them since the start of the book color his thoughts and screw up his relationship with Gabriella. At this point, I was rooting for her to get out and go far away from him because she deserved more than what he threw at her.
Of course, being a romance novel, that wasn’t going to happen. I just wish that they actually talked about what happened and why he said what he did to her before she took him back. I was seriously looking forward to that scene and for a quick minute I thought I was going to get it. Gabriella planned on making it hard for him. She knew she loved him (I don’t know why at this point, but she did) and she wanted to get him back. However, she wanted him to work to get it. While he did some begging, it wasn’t enough to warrant her taking him back so quickly. Apparently, instead of communication, hot sex solves all problems. Who knew?
The biggest issue I had with this book is that the title is I’ll Be There, implying that the characters are going to actually be there for each other, but in reality, it only works one way. Gabriella bends over backwards for Zach, doing everything she can to save his job and keep him happy, but when she needed him, he was out the door as fast as he could be. He let his self-doubt get the best of him and tossed her away when he should have pulled her into his arms and never let her go.
There was also a bit of a technical issue that I hope was fixed before final publication (this was an ARC from Sourcebooks and Netgalley). The issue was with chronology. At one point, it is mentioned that it has been a month since Zach and Gabriella got together, but not long later we find out that it has only been a week. I don’t know if the original plan was to skip the early part of their relationship or if it was just an odd typo that wasn’t caught before the ARC went out, but it led to a bit of confusion on my part.
In the end, I liked the beginning and the interactions between Gabriella and Zach up until he just threw her away. I think the problem is that Ms. Chase didn’t know how to end the book. Her characters were happy and on the way to staying that way. It is almost as if someone told her she needed one more conflict to wrap everything up. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. Without that bit of ridiculousness, I was willing to give this a full five star rating, but now I can’t do that. Between Zach’s reversion to being a complete asshole and Gabriella becoming a doormat, I just can’t give it anywhere near that high a rating.