TBR Day. Unsuitable / Ainslie Paton. 2014

I'm two weeks late with this and almost considered skipping again, but I liked this book so well that I decided to suck it up and finally write my TBR post.

The home page of Ainslie Paton's website, has a little box that says "Favourite Tropes - New Takes" and in that box are pictures of a bunch of her books, including this one, Unsuitable. Unsuitable is a new take on the "busy executive needs a nanny for his kid" trope by making the executive a woman and the nanny a man. I thought this made Unsuitable a fun choice for "Favorite Trope" month.

Here's the blurb:
Can they make trailblazing and homemaking fit, or is love just another gender stereotype? 
Audrey broke the glass ceiling. Reece swapped a blue collar for a pink collar job. 
She’s a single mum by design. He’s a nanny by choice. 
She gets passed over for promotion. He struggles to find a job. 
She takes a chance on him. He’s worth more than he knows. 
There’s an imbalance of power. There’s an age difference. 
There’s a child whose favourite word is no. 
Everything about them being together is unsuitable. 
Except for love. 

Paton does a great job of turning a favorite trope on its head-- all the way to the end when Audrey is the one who has to go to Reece and grovel to get him back. Audrey chose to have a child on her own using a sperm donor. As the book opens Audrey has to find a new nanny. When Reece shows up at her door, Audrey is nonplussed, because she assumed, as she thought of Reese Witherspoon, that this Reece was also a woman. Audrey, however, recognizes her own biases for 2 reasons: 1) Reece is able to establish an instant rapport with 3-year old Mia, and 2) Audrey doesn't want to be guilty of the same discrimination she faces in her male-dominated profession. After some trials, she agrees to give Reece the job as carer to her daughter.

Reece turns out to have an amazing gift working with children. But he continually has to deal with all of the assumptions that people make about him and how painful it is to be denied opportunities with children simply because he's a man. I think Paton explores this issue very well and I liked the way this book got me thinking about my own biases.

Audrey chose to be a single parent because she didn't really trust relationships and she desperately wanted to have a family. She's estranged from her parents and pretty much on her own with the exception of a few close friends. She's good at her job, but she works in the construction industry, and is often passed over in favor of her male colleagues.

It's not long before Audrey and Reece realize how attracted they are to one another. Audrey feels guilty as she is Reece's employer. She also feels awkward over the fact that she's several years older than Reece. She doesn't want a permanent relationship-- she just wants her little family of herself and Mia. It's clear that Reece is the emotionally mature one (again going against trope). So it's Audrey who has to decide that she does indeed want Reece permanently in her life.

Like the other Paton book I read, Grease Monkey Jive, Unsuitable, is on the longish side (about 350 pages). The length gives us a chance to see Audrey & Reece weather some storms as their relationship deepens and develops. In the end, though, it's Audrey who has to relinquish absolute control over her life and let someone else in. This was a thought-provoking, satisfying, and entertaining read.

I'm just sorry I've been so preoccupied by other things that I didn't take the time to write about it sooner.


  1. You still beat me; I haven't even finished my book. I guess that says something about how much I was enjoying it.

    1. LOL. I'm sorry yours isn't as appealing. It's just hard this time of year to spend any time with the computer, so I was procrastinating.

  2. Phyl, I honestly think you should be a professional reviewer! I'm always captivated by the way you write your opinions. :)

    As for the book, it sounded amazing until the part of the heroine being "several years older" than the hero. I can't get past that idea. In real life it doesn't bother me much, if it's not a huge difference (it would look odd if the couple has more than 15 years difference) but in romances just knowing it makes me appreciate the story less. This "several" is precisely how much?

    1. Thank you, Sonia! That is so kind of you to say :)

      There are 7 years between Reece and Audrey. He's 27 and she's 34. I hope that's not a deal-breaker for you. Because I think it highlights the fact that Audrey has worked for her company a significant amount of time with no real reward.

    2. Hi! Sorry for he delay in replying. 7 years is a lot... but how much does this idea repeats in the novel? Is it something always there? Because I don't think I could just pretend it wasn't like that...

    3. Hmmm. Well, I wouldn't say it's in your face, but to Audrey it's a factor. For example, she thinks she wouldn't want any more children; he's younger and he'd probably expect more children. Remember, Audrey is afraid of commitment, so the age difference is a tool she can use to push Reece away. Personally, it never bothered me because I saw the age difference as one more way Paton was turning various tropes upside down.

  3. This sounds very interesting and I'm adding it to my pile. I love it when tropes are turned around and this one feels like a modern version. Thanks for the review!

    1. And thank you for commenting! I do hope you enjoy Unsuitable. After reading this book I bought a couple more by Paton as it looks like she has written upside-down tropes in other books.


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