Review: Timing by Mary Calmes

timingRating: 3.75 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel


Stefan Joss is headed to Texas to be the man of honor in his best friend Charlotte’s wedding. He isn’t thrilled that his boss also wants him to try to negotiate a land deal while he is there, but hopefully that will only take a little time away from the wedding festivities. Stef and Charlotte have been close since college and he is almost part of her family. The only problem is that Stef and Charlotte’s brother, Rand, have pretty much hated one another since they first met (though Stef does find the rancher incredibly hot). The two can barely stop fighting when they are around each other, but for Charlotte, Stef is going to try to get along.

As the two men spend time together at the wedding, tensions thaw between them. Even more surprising, Rand reveals his feelings for Stef are actually nothing like hatred. With that barrier gone, the two men fall hard and fast for one another, the chemistry that has always been between them sparking to life. Stef and Rand not only begin acting on their fierce attraction, but realize that there may be something real between them.

challenge month 2017 copyEven as things are going well between the men, complications from the ranch deal rear back up. Suddenly Stef finds himself in the middle of a murder, and now his own life is at risk. Stef and Rand have finally put their fighting behind them and have a chance for a real future, but threats to Stef’s life may end it all before things can really start.

I am a huge Mary Calmes fan and her Timing series is one of the few I haven’t read, though it has always been one I have wanted to try. So it seemed like the perfect choice for TBR Pile Week for our Reading Challenge Month. This story was originally released back in 2010, but rereleased last year along with book 2 in coordination with the publication of the third book in the series. Timing has a very old school Mary Calmes feel, and if you are a fan of the author, you probably know what I am talking about. There was a lot about it I really enjoyed, including a dreamy alpha cowboy and a super sexy connection between the heroes. But there were other areas where I struggled at times.

Calmes has a way of really sweeping the reader up in her romances. They feel big and epic and intense. The men are passionate, they fall fast and hard, and her books can just make you swoon. Here we get that same dynamic as the guys move quickly from enemies to lovers, and their feelings are intense. The chemistry between Stef and Rand is so strong and I found myself just wanting things to work for them from the start. The story is anchored by the wedding at the beginning and a light suspense element at the end, but mostly this book is focused on the relationship between these men and their intense feelings and hot connection really drive the book. So if you are looking for a romance that will sweep you off your feet, I think this is a book you will really enjoy.

I did find myself struggling in some areas, however. First off, the romance is almost instantaneous. The guys go from hating one another to totally committed almost immediately. Once Rand shares his true feelings, it is like those many years of hatred are just gone. I get it from Rand’s end as we learn he has been doing to equivalent of pulling Stef’s pigtails, figuring bad attention is better than no attention at all. So his feelings have always been there, even though he has been hiding them by being a jerk. But Stef has truly disliked, even hated, Rand for years. So I had a really hard time with the fact that Stef is able to suddenly put all those years of animosity behind him and jump right into bed upon learning the truth. These guys have just reconciled when Rand claims Stefan, they have ditched the condoms, and the expectation is that they are now together for good. It was hard to imagine how Stef wasn’t running from the room at this sudden declaration of possession so quickly on the heels of the two hating one another, yet he just rolls with it. Now once we moved past this initial get together and into the guys developing their relationship, this was less of an issue and I could really sink into things. But I had a difficult time with the speed with which these guys go from hating each other to ready for a lifetime commitment.

The second issue is that I found Stef way over the top in his perfection. Everyone loves Stef. Everyone. Like adores him and tells him so at every opportunity. The bridesmaids at the wedding are constantly touching him, feeling his chest and back and hair. They practically treat him like a pet. Everyone always wants Stef sitting with them or talking to them. It just became way too much. Not only because it is unbelievable that anyone is that perfect and universally adored, but it also made it harder to get a sense of Stef as a real person because people’s reactions to him were so unrealistic. I did like his connection with Charlotte and their close bond was very apparent. We see over the course of the book how the two have been there for each other for years, as friends and confidants, and helped each other through some difficult times. But I’ll admit during the wedding I found it again over the top. Charlotte basically ignores her husband-to-be and spends all her time with Stef. At the rehearsal dinner she is yelling at Stef that he needs to be with her to greet her guests, as if that isn’t a job for her husband and family instead. As the story moves forward past the wedding, this became less of an issue as we are more focused on Rand and Stef, versus Stef interacting with family and friends. But it made for a rocky start.

There is a mild suspense sub-plot that kicks in toward the end of the book relating to Stef’s job. It is a nice way to move the story forward out of the bedroom into the real world and there is some nice intensity as Stef deals with the threats to his life (especially with hunky Rand there to support him). I did find the explanation for the bad guy’s actions to be hard to swallow. It made no sense to me that 

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if he didn’t want the deal to go through, he would send the guy most likely to succeed. Why not send someone else who would have less of a chance of convincing her to sell? Why send anyone at all and not just tell the company the deal has collapsed? 

It ended up making the conflict seem contrived for the purposes of the story, rather than organic like it might have been.

Overall I found this story was a combination of the very many things I love about Calmes’ writing, as well as some things I found challenging. For me, the sweeping romance and warm fuzzies of these guys together, combined with the hot alpha cowboy, were enough to overcome the more problematic areas.

This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for TBR Pile Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win a fabulous prize from NineStar Press. Four lucky winners will each receive a $25 NineStar Press gift card. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a loaded Kindle fire filled with DSP books!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on TBR Pile Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!

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Comments

  1. Mary Calmes is probably the author I’ve heard the most about and yet, somehow, never read. Maybe I’ll put her down for next year’s challenge!

  2. I did read this a while back…I remember it holding my attention, but also feeling like there were some sudden pacing issues (ironic for something called TIMING, no?)…

  3. Thank you for the review. I read Frog and Quiet Nights, very sweet books. Timing is on my TBR pile.

  4. I agree with this review. The romance and sex were pretty hot, though Stef’s abrupt change of heart pulled me out of the story for a while. The suspense element felt like an afterthought. But those issues aside, I did develop a crush on Rand and I liked the way the story played out. Not enough to pick up book 2, but maybe someday.

  5. I know many people love her — but I have grown out of my Mary Calmes’ phase ^^. But yay you for finally reading book of hers that you haven’t read and enjoyed it as well.

  6. Mary Calmes is one of those authors I’ve never really managed to connect with, despite the fact that she is such a favourite with so many people. I read this one a while back and, like Jay, found Stef a bit too good to be true (or a bit too “Jory”!).

  7. I’ve had this book on my Kindle for almost a year, so I chose a different book to read for this week’s challenge. Mary Calmes is an author about whom I’ve heard so many good things but have yet to try. (I guess the book will definitely classify as being on my TBR for a year when next year rolls around!) Thanks for an informative review, Jay; I always enjoy hearing the positive as well as those things that didn’t quite meet your expectations.

  8. I read this a long time ago, and feel pretty much the same as you. But I did finish it and can say I enjoyed it.
    Never felt the need to read it again, though. :-)

  9. I’ve had this whole series on my shelf*, I believe, I was told it was THE Mary book to read but I’ve never been able to pick them up to read and I’m not sure why … maybe I’ll try it sometime in the future but honestly I have so many other books on my pile that I KNOW I’ll love to spend a chunk of time on something i will probably have all the same issues you had with it :/
    *i looked it up, it’s been on my shelf since 2014, could have used it as my book for the challenge week, but i picked a different one

  10. Thanks for your review! Mary Calmes’s books are hit or miss for me for some of the reasons you talked about. I haven’t read this one yet.

  11. This book in on my ereader but i haven’t read it yet. I do love Frog by Mary Calmes it is one of my favorite re-reads because who can resists Weber. I will definitely put this book higher on my TBR list. Thanks for the review.

  12. I don’t know how I felt reading this the first time but rereading it when my library showed the reissue as a new book (and I forgot I read it), I couldn’t finish it. It’s as you say, Jay, the constant adoration got to me. I decided that I remembered enough about how it finished not to have to revisit this one again. Normally I love the friends and families being integral parts of a plot, but maybe this would have been better if it hadn’t involved the rest.

  13. All the criticisms are true, and yet we read it anyway. We read it anyway. There is at least one character like this in each series. There is always someone incredibly wealthy. There is a perfect group of loyal friends. The trick is to just go with the fantasy and let Calmes take you away like Calgon. It’s fun.

    • Yes, I totally agree. The style works for a reason, and I find her books are so sweepingly romantic. For some reason, sometimes the style works perfectly and others times I have issues, but in the end I always love this author.

  14. I’ve never read this author but the comments make for an intriguing debate… on my list now to try for myself!

    • Mary is a wonderful author and I think a must read for m/m romance fans as she is a queen in the genre. Personally this one wasn’t my favorite, but I love Matter of Time series, as well as many of her others. If you do a search for her on the blog, you will find tons of reviews if you are looking for something to try.

  15. This is my absoutely re-read by Mary Calmes! It was the very first book I read by her and it has a special place in my heart. I hope she releases more books, both about Stefan and Rand and secondary characters.

  16. One of my favorite series by the author. I actually bought the book twice in paperback, one with the 1st edition cover and the other with the updated cover. Rand and Stefan have great chemistry and their enemy to lover situation had me at from the get go.

  17. I have read a couple books by Mary Calmes and I liked them, but I stopped reading her books because for me they were too similar, the characters were not real enough, too much fairy tale for me :-)

  18. I haven’t read this one, but I’ve mostly liked her books overall so far. I did stop reading her Change of Heart shifter series, even though I really liked it at first. As I went along, I found that I couldn’t stomach the amount of violence one of the characters kept on suffering. I’ll probably finish one day, but it just became too much.

  19. Purple Reader says:

    I like Mary Calmes, like you, haven’t read this series. I also like a bit of realism in my romance. I think insta-love is real (I’ve experience it), but not where there’s a past history in a relationship. At the same, the enemies to lovers trope is one I like, too, b/c I like to see how the author gets the couple to address that challenge/conflict.

  20. Karen Chichester says:

    I read the first edition of this book way back in 2011, and I loved it. I think I need to read it again.

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