Named one of Cosmopolitan's Best Books of 2018
From the husband and wife writing duo Jennifer Miller and Jason Feifer comes Mr. Nice Guy, a funny and all too real comedy about the pursuit of success in lifeand lovein today's working world.
Lucas Callahan, a man who gave up his law degree, fiancée and small-town future for a shot at making it in the Big Apple. He snags an entry-level job at Empire magazine, believing it’s only a matter of time before he becomes a famous writer. And then late one night in a downtown bar he meets a gorgeous brunette who takes him home...
Carmen Kelly wanted to be a hard-hitting journalist, only to find herself cast in the role of Empire's sex columnist thanks to the boys' club mentality of Manhattan magazines. Her latest piece is about an unfortunateand unsatisfyingencounter with an awkward and nerdy guy, who was nice enough to look at but horribly inexperienced in bed.
Lucas only discovers that he’s slept with the infamous Carmen Kellythat is, his own magazine’s sex columnist!when he reads her printed take-down. Humiliated and furious, he pens a rebuttal and signs it, "Nice Guy." Empire publishes it, and the pair of columns go viral. Readers demand more. So the magazine makes an arrangement: Each week, Carmen and Lucas will sleep together... and write dueling accounts of their sexual exploits.
It’s the most provocative sexual relationship any couple has had, but the columnist-lovers are soon engaging in more than a war of words: They become seduced by the city’s rich and powerful, tempted by fame, and more attracted to each other than they’re willing to admit. In the end, they will have to choose between ambition, love, and the consequences of total honesty.
“The Devil Wears Prada meets Sex and the Citya page-turner that's part sex diary, part coming-of-age story." Carolyn Kylstra, editor in chief, SELF
“I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN!!! It totally messed up my week, it messed up my deadlines, but I absolutely loved it.” Kevin Kwan, author of Crazy Rich Asians
|Publisher:||St. Martin''s Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Jennifer Miller is an author and journalist. Her debut novel, The Year of the Gadfly, was called "entirely addictive" (Glamour) and a "darkly comic romp” (The Washington Post). She writes frequently for The New York Times Styles section. Jason Feifer is editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine, host of the podcast Pessimists Archive, and previously worked as an editor at Men's Health, Maxim, Fast Company, and Boston. They're married and live in Brooklyn.
Read an Excerpt
Just shy of 9:00 A.M., his underarms already brackish, Lucas emerged from the Chambers Street subway and joined the throng of pedestrians converging on One World Trade. For a month now, he'd been making this trip alongside the tourists and suits, the Truthers and Staten Island émigrés. He loved the commute, August heat be damned. In fact, he couldn't believe his luck. To be here, finally, in New York, working inside that gleaming scepter of polished glass. The building's spire pierced the impossible blue, seemed to stab straight through the sun. It reminded Lucas of a batter at the plate, pointing to the outfield.
A cynical person would have been embarrassed by such grandiose thoughts. But Lucas couldn't help himself. Though only a fact-checker — an invertebrate on the media food chain — he thrilled to enter One World Trade's echoing lobby each morning. He loved how the tap of his ID commanded the security bar to swing down and simultaneously summon the elevator. He rarely shared the car with anyone else. Everyone in this elevator bank worked in magazines, which meant they didn't arrive until at least 10:00 A.M. But Lucas hadn't yet adjusted to these so-called media hours. By 10, it felt as though half the day had already shriveled in the heat. And Lucas couldn't afford any missteps. Too many people back home believed it was only a matter of time before he skulked back below the Mason-Dixon. They eagerly awaited his contrite return to the old life, the one he'd lived so well until he ruined everything and went to New York: that "polluted, sweaty cesspool of liberalism." These were his grandmother's exact words.
"People sweat in Charlotte," Lucas had argued. "But they don't smell!" his grandmother retorted. "Unless you're rich, New York is like a slum. It's like India."
Lucas's grandmother had never been to New York or India. But that was beside the point. In dropping out of law school after a year and breaking up with his (wealthy, pedigreed) fiancée six months shy of their wedding, he'd dashed the hopes and expectations of his family. Never mind that Mel had dumped him. Everyone, including Mel herself, believed that Lucas should have done more to salvage the situation. Instead, like a coward, he'd run away — and to Yankeedom of all places! — turning his back on the people, the very culture, that had raised him.
With the exception of his older brother, Sam, Lucas hadn't spoken to his family once since arriving in Manhattan a month ago. But so what? This was the place he'd longed to be, and he was working at Empire Magazine, the place he'd always wanted to work. So what if he inhabited a poorly ventilated box and only made thirty-three thousand pre-tax dollars a year?
The elevator doors slid open at the twenty-ninth floor and Lucas stepped out.
Painted opposite the elevator bank in massive black letters, the word was the visual equivalent of a bullhorn or a punch in the face. And why shouldn't the empire — as everyone called their floor — intimidate? The magazine was a fifty-year-old New York City institution headquartered in Manhattan's newest bastion of hopefulness and pride.
Heading toward his desk, Lucas walked past the glass-walled offices of the magazine's editors — its ruling class — their large windows overlooking Lower Manhattan and the East River. He passed the cubicle banks, dense as Iron Block buildings, where the proletariat — the staff writers, designers, marketers, and other assorted minions — produced the bimonthly publication. He was well into the suburbs of the empire by now, approaching the outpost of interns. And then, finally, the cluster of fact-checkers. How absurd that the fact-checkers should have less desirable real estate than the interns, but so it went. These were the exurbs, backed against a windowless wall, unwarmed by the sun. Lucas knew he shouldn't complain. He'd only been at Empire for a month. His career, he reminded himself, would take persistence and time. And yet his initial leap of faith had catapulted him so far, so fast. Should he not continue to bound with the same speed?
Lucas sat down at his tidy desk. His colleagues' workspaces were cluttered with papers, on which they'd scribbled and typed the minutiae — the facts — of the upcoming issue. But Lucas let nothing pile up, literally or figuratively. He'd come to New York to unburden himself. And yet in so doing, he now had a year's worth of law-school debt to worry about. To make matters worse, his work frequently reminded him of his penury. Just now, for example, he was fact-checking a story about a celebrity chef whose restaurant featured a "gold menu." For a few thousand dollars, you could have a gold-flecked Kobe burger or a margarita with a gold-dusted salt rim. It was amazing to think how less than a decade ago the same people who paid bank for gold-baked branzino had been crying on the floor of the stock exchange.
Lucas tried to work, but before long he was checking his ex's Facebook page. Just two months after their breakup and Mel was already "in a relationship." The new suitor's page was private, so Lucas had limited material: height and build (tall, sturdy), clothing (khakis, popped collar, baseball hat), and name (Cal Braden). In short, a lacrosse-playing frat bro. If New York had its Masters of the Universe, then Dixie had its Kings of Douchery. It was obvious from these photographs that Cal Braden couldn't wait to give a pretty southern girl a big rock, and a big house, and a big brood of children styled head to toe in Vineyard Vines. Lucas didn't want any of that. And yet some deeply embedded muscle strained with the discovery that Mel had exchanged him for this newer, preppier model. Oh, and she'd untagged herself from all of Lucas's photos. They'd been together for six years — four at college and two afterward — and it was like he never existed.
* * *
"Jesus, Luke. It's been a month already. You've got to quit sucking up to the boss. You're making the rest of us look bad."
Lucas quickly minimized Facebook and swiveled around. Franklin, short and snub-nosed, his hair spiked like porcupine quills, stood there drinking a Venti iced coffee, the plastic still sweating from the heat.
"What time is it?"
"Ten thirty." Franklin pulled his Jack Spade messenger bag over his head.
Had he really been looking at pictures of Mel for an hour?
"How many times do I have to tell you, Luke: Nobody knows we're back here."
If nobody knows we're back here, Lucas thought, then I'm not making you look bad. Still, Lucas was convinced that his colleagues would eventually come to respect his work ethic. That Luke, they'd say. He hustles. At some point, the brass would take notice. Otherwise, Lucas would succumb to the same fate as Franklin, who was still checking facts three whole years after arriving at Empire. How could someone languish like that? If Lucas had been smart enough to flee Charlotte immediately after college, he'd surely be an editor by now.
Then again, he'd just wasted an hour on Facebook. His self-loathing felt like a cement block. Somebody might as well push him into the East River.
"What're you working on?" Franklin leaned over the cubicle wall.
"The Best Restaurants package."
Franklin frowned. "Empire must be in trouble or we wouldn't be covering this shit. Every single issue of Washingtonian is the Best Restaurants issue. And every issue of Boston magazine is 'Best of Boston,' which is funny, because everything in Boston is the worst."
Lucas disagreed. There was still plenty of actual culture in Empire — political analysis and at least three meaty features each month. The magazine held the same world of promise that had captivated him back in college when he happened to pick up a copy at Barnes & Noble. He'd started subscribing, to the confusion of his dorm mates and later to Mel, who never understood why he cared about some recent scandal involving the mayor's daughter, or the city's gentrification battles, or the rise of sketchy Chinatown bathhouses. Nobody back home understood how the glossy pages transported Lucas into a world equally full of glamour and grit, of modernity and history, of culture from the subterranean to the heavenly. Everything you wanted to talk about, and see and experience, was captured within Empire.
"How long before they had you checking big features?" Lucas asked now.
"So precocious, this kid!" Franklin snickered. "It's adorable."
Franklin could make all the fun he wanted. A year from now, he'd still be stuck in the exurbs, checking the veracity of other people's stories. But not me, Lucas thought. I'll be writing them. He closed Facebook and got to work on his thousand-dollar hamburgers.CHAPTER 2
At precisely 11:13 A.M., Lucas received an email from the Editor-in-Chief's secretary. He was being summoned.
Many months later, when Lucas picked through the rubble of his career, attempting to unearth the bomb that had led to its implosion, he decided it had all started here, with this missive. At the moment, however, he could hardly guess what the Editor wanted with him. Jay Jacobson was one of the city's most formidable media moguls. Inside Empire, he was a benevolent despot: feared, revered, discreetly criticized for his capricious nature, but, above all, obeyed. Among themselves, the staff called him Jays, a play on his alliterative name. It was a small, inert act of rebellion, secretly sanctioned by the despot to give the proletariat an illusion of control.
Lucas read and reread the email — "4pm, Mr. Jacobson's office" — trying to determine whether this request was good or very bad. He only realized that he was exhaling heavily, and repeatedly, when Franklin's head popped up, whack-a-mole style, from the divider. "Dude, what's with the asthma attack?" "Jays wants to see me."
Franklin frowned. "Well, when you greet him, make sure you bow deeply, from the waist."
"Ha-ha," Lucas said, though later that afternoon when Lucas went to prep in the bathroom he tried out an experimental bow in front of the mirror. He felt — and looked — ridiculous. Lucas righted himself. Then he straightened his tie. He was the only person in the office who wore one to work every single day and, like his commitment to an early arrival, the decision had raised more than a few eyebrows. And yet look how smart he'd been! Making your mark was about preparation, about being ready for anything at a moment's notice. "You were born to work here," he whispered as he gave himself one final once-over and smiled to make sure there wasn't anything stuck in his teeth. "You're going to impress the shit out of this guy."
But first he had to get himself past the Editor's assistants, Florence and Phyllis. These were Jays' loyal sentries: hefty women of indeterminate middle age who had worked at Empire as long as anyone could remember. Despite their doughy appendages and double chins, they projected a stone-like severity. At times, it seemed they were asleep with their eyes open. People called them the Sphinxes.
"Pst! Lucas!" Alexis was beckoning him. She was Jays' third assistant, the one who did most of his busywork. Petite to the point of fragile, she looked as though she might shatter, should she accidentally bump into something. Her breasts, however, were enormous. Lucas had heard a senior editor refer to them as "French," and since then he'd had a difficult time keeping his eyes on Alexis's face. At least he made a concerted effort to do so; plenty of others, both male and female colleagues, did not.
"You can go right in," Alexis said, and then, with an air of conspiracy, whispered, "Just don't look those women in the eye or you'll turn to stone. And when you leave, make sure you back away. Slowly."
"Right, thanks," Lucas said, because his nerves were too ratcheted up for a witty response. And also, maybe it was good advice? He could feel the Sphinxes' eyes on him as he walked, following him in a reptilian sort of way. He knocked and was told to enter.
The afternoon light in Jays' office was blinding. It was like walking into a prism: dizzying and dazzling, everything fractured. "Hello?" Lucas blinked repeatedly, frantically. Was he really blowing this already?
"Good to meet you!" Jays stood up from his desk and suddenly the room snapped into focus, as though physically altered by the man's impeccably clothed, strapping physique. Lucas had known plenty of alpha men at UNC, but this guy could have been a movie star. He was in his mid-forties but somehow looked ageless. His chin and nose were perfect, sculpture worthy. His eyes were a deep cerulean blue, and his teeth gleamed. He met Lucas in the middle of the room and presented his hand. Jays' sleeves were rolled up, his forearms strong and hairless.
Does he wax his arms? Lucas hesitated before gathering himself. "Great to meet you, too," he said, and shook, remembering to keep his fingers firm.
"Please." Jays motioned to a sitting area where a beautiful distressed-leather couch, an armchair, and a coffee table polished to the point of invisibility were arranged on a white shag rug. Jays relaxed into the chair. "How're you settling in at Empire, Luke?" he asked.
"I'm great," Lucas said, trying to unobtrusively size up the Editor. Jays wore a crisp linen oxford with two open buttons and — Lucas noticed — no undershirt. Light gray slacks and black Gucci horsebit loafers. No socks. The only thing missing from this picture was a tumbler of scotch. Some of the editors' desks were veritable bar carts, but Jays' didn't have a single bottle of alcohol on display. What he did have was an entire wall of shelves lined with identical notebooks. It was one of the Editor's well-known eccentricities that he preferred writing by hand (with a Lamy 2000 extra-fine-nib pen, which Alexis ordered on Amazon for the affordable price of $134.99) inside a bespoke leather-bound ledger. Every few months, a box of them arrived from Milan. Each notebook was rumored to cost hundreds of dollars.
"I'm thrilled to be working here," Lucas said.
Jays smiled serenely. "I'm very happy to hear it. You know, Luke, we generally don't hire people who come to us so totally green."
Lucas started to sweat.
"Housman said you were a go-getter."
Dan Housman was number two on the masthead. Both he and Lucas had been Sigma Chi at UNC, albeit many years apart. It was the only reason Lucas's application had made it out of the HR slush pile.
" ... which makes sense," Jays continued, "because I gather that Sigma Chi isn't usually available to someone whose father, well, sells cars?"
It was true; Lucas's fraternity brothers were the sons of bankers and corporate executives. They all paid full tuition. But they'd welcomed Lucas in, seeming to delight in the novelty of him: this salt-of-the-earth representative. Never mind that Lucas's backyard straddled one of Charlotte's most affluent suburbs or that his parents belonged to the city's third most desirable country club. At parties his fraternity brothers could say, ... and this is Lucas, whose dad actually sells cars! Lucas didn't mind. It was, after all, a mutually beneficial arrangement.
But hearing "sells cars" out of Jays' mouth made Lucas cringe. "Actually," he said as gently as possible, "my dad owns the dealership."
"To be the son of a car salesman," Jays continued, "and to have the audacity to walk right into a fraternity where you didn't belong —"
Was he being insulted? He couldn't tell.
"— is the kind of initiative that I admire."
Hold on. Jay Jacobson admired him?
"I have to say, Luke, that I was impressed by your application. It's been a long time since I've seen someone with so much passion for this magazine. Such a familiarity with what we do. And to be the son of a car salesman from North Carolina!"
Out of Jays' mouth, "North Carolina" might as well have been Madagascar. And yet it hardly mattered. The Editor admired him. The Editor was impressed by him!
"But here's a secret I'll share with you, Luke."
Jays leaned forward in the chair. Up close, Lucas saw that the Editor had a small shaving nick on his jaw. It was also true about his eyes: They were a little too close. Lucas relaxed a little.
"By dint of fate, or God, or what have you, I also had the misfortune to be born in a less than advantageous location. Beloit, Kansas, if you can believe that. Sometimes I wonder: When there's New York, can there also be Kansas? Do you understand what I'm saying?"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Mr. Nice Guy"
Copyright © 2018 Jennifer Miller and Jason Feifer.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Nice enough man trying to make it in the big city after tumult with his family and intended bride? Working at a prestigious publication, but as a lowly fact checker, making nowhere near enough money, miserable and scrambling and trying to find love and a new place for himself in the world? It could have been a great story--and maybe for some it is. It did not grab me by the throat, did not intrigue me enough to get me past 40 pages. There are sparks of fantastic writing, hints of wonderful mayhem to come, but they weren't enough for this reader.
This was a tough one for me. Mr. Nice Guy looks like a typical love/hate rom-com, but it touched on some deeper subjects. I really enjoyed Carmen, but I could NOT get on Lucas' side. I kept reading, waiting to like him more but it never happened. I also thought that it could have used more in Carmen's POV. She was someone you could root for which I did not feel like Lucas was.
twists, turns, mystery and EXCITEMENT mr. nice guy beams you into manhattan, looking through a lens of individuals in their twenties and early thirties...hook-ups, relationships, etc., aren’t always easy...one’s expectations don’t necessarily align with the other’s, that’s life. however, working hard to change that with HOPE is exciting...the excitement both carmen and lucas bring to their work/life sprinkled in with other characters and their own issues makes this book very entertaining and funny at times. let’s celebrate our differences while peeling back the layers of each person to solve the mystery of who they really are, down deep. say cheers to reading the pages that reveal compatibility in between the sheets (at least sometimes) and/or how the characters have FUN getting there. if you enjoy SEX or love making, a combination of the two, and the media, then i recommend reading this book...it gets hot and heavy at times with the rawness of LOVE mixed in between.
Mr. Nice Guy has good flow, is well written, has well developed characters, and is fairly interesting -- just not what I expected based on the description! The book description that got me to read this story was something about a romantic comedy cross between Sex in the City and The Devil Wears Prada. That sounded great to me, so I was excited to read it. Unfortunately, I didn't laugh, I really wouldn't call it romance, and I could maybe see some of The Devil Wears Prada. It was a let down for me, more because it didn't meet my expectations based on the published description, than the actual Mr. Nice Guy story. For me, it was a coming of age story, and in retrospect, a good read that I would recommend.
I received a free copy of this book to give an objective review. Mr. Nice Guy is a fun, easy read. That's just how I like my books. It's a good escape from real life when you just want to relax and not think too much. You can relate to the characters, we all know what it feels like to start our lives, Mr. Nice Guy does it alone, in a new city. He has to learn who he can trust, how to maneuver this new world, and how to take advantage of circumstances, instead of being taken advantage of. Keeps your attention and you cannot wait to find out how his mistakes and triumphs end.
The thing is, from the description I was hesitant. But part of me wondered, how could this premise actually work? How could this get through editorial and marketing and sales at a publisher and have no one say, maybe now isn't the right time to publish a book with such horrible sexual dynamics? It doesn't matter how much consent is implied, these two characters essentially prostitute themselves for their jobs. You can't get beyond that. The sex becomes their job and neither of them really enjoys it. I mean, maybe they get their rocks off, but it's angry and resentful and not good. I'm not sure why this was tagged as romance or as women's fiction, because this is not a romance, and the main character here is a man, which makes it not women's fiction. Mr. Nice Guy is full of hateful characters doing hateful things, which is generally how I describe literary fiction so there's that. I think this book should come with a buyer beware, it's packaged as if it were one thing, but it isn't that. And if you get the ickiness from the description, don't be fooled into thinking it can't be that bad, it is that bad. I should have trusted my gut. **Mr. Nice Guy will publish on October 16, 2018. I received an advance reader copy courtesy of NetGalley/St. Martin's Press (St. Martin's Griffin) in exchange for my honest review.
Mr. Nice Guy – Jennifer Miller, Jason Fiefer I was fortunate to receive this novel as an Advance Reader Copy, in exchange for an objective review. Lucas Callahan is a young man, who, after the end of a relationship, opts to leave North Carolina and 2 years of law school behind him as he hopes to start anew and make it big as a journalist in New York City. Landing an entry level position as a fact-checker with a well known magazine, Empire, Lucas struggles to stand apart and be seen by his employer. One night, while out at a bar, he meets a woman. Carmen is older, clearly sophisticated, and Lucas can’t believe his luck when she brings him home with her for the night. Early the next morning, he wakes first, and not quite knowing what to do, he quietly gathers his things up and leaves, leaving his lady friend undisturbed. A week later, he hears a colleague reading a column from Empire magazine. In the column, a woman is describing her recent one-night stand. To his horror, Lucas realizes the column is about him. Embarrassed, angry and chagrined, Lucas keeps his identity a secret and decides to provide a rebuttal to the column with his own description of events, written by ‘Mr. Nice Guy’, setting the stage for an epic battle of the sexes in the big city. I was surprised to find this book was a bit dry and at times hard to push through. And yet, when I was reading the stretches of book where Carmen’s and Mr. Nice Guy’s columns were dictated, I laughed out loud because they were hilarious! Overall, not a bad first attempt by the authors!
The basic premise of this book was interesting, and it had a nice tag line and cool cover art, but the execution was not as good as promised. The day to day writing was done decently, but the character interaction seemed poor, and the attempt at sex scenes were stunted and poorly executed. I liked the office setting, and I liked the MC sparring, but the chemistry just wasn't there for me
3 Stars Review by Elizabeth Late Night Reviewer Up All Night w/ Books Blog Mr. Nice Guy by Jennifer Miller and Jason Feifer is a romantic comedy reminiscent of How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days. The blurb had me intrigued to see where the authors would take this. Lucas leaves his home and breaks up with his fiancée to move to New York to work for a magazine. At first, he is a fact checker until he goes head to head with the Sex Columnist, Carmen. Carmen and Lucas have a one night stand which in turn she writes about in her column the next day. Carmen calls Lucas out on his experience which makes him pen a retaliation. Needless to say, that is when things start to take a turn. Even though Lucas is having weekly encounters with Carmen to write their column, he has a sex ‘therapist’ I guess you could say, to give him pointers to improve his moves. The concept for the story was one that had so much promise. Unfortunately, I found myself pushing to finish reading. I was unable to connect with any of the characters. Carmen and Lucas had no chemistry, to me it seemed like it was forced. Interesting concept. I will definitely be checking out more of both authors work in the future. The writing was well done this just wasn't the book for me.
Mr. Nice Guy unfortunately did not live up to its promise. It was neither like The Devil Wears Prada nor Sex in the City. I also don’t think this should have been listed as a romantic comedy. I read romance for a few main reasons: connection and chemistry between the characters, and a HEA. You know what to expect. After reading the book, I got none of that with this storyline. Lucas just moved to NYC from North Carolina after quitting law school and being dumped by his ex-girlfriend of 6 years. He lands a job as a fact checker at his favorite magazine. After having a one night stand with a beautiful older woman, he realizes she’s a journalist at the same magazine and wrote about their encounter in her sex/relationship column. He decides to write his side of the story, however, remains anonymous to the readers and his editor. Carmen is tired of only writing about sex and relationships, however, her editor (who she’s slept with on and off for a couple of years) has no plans to allow her to advance. She wants to write about sexual politics and human rights, not fluff pieces. After the first letters of the sexual encounter gain readers and online views, her editor comes up with an idea; Continue to have sex and have both sides write about it. The storyline picked up a bit during this portion and we got to see a little bit more into the minds of the characters, however, it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t connect with either of the characters and the supporting characters annoyed me even more. Thanks to NetGalley and Saint Martin’s Press for the ARC. It was an interesting premise and I was looking for something different, however it just didn’t resonate with me
To me this book was about the maturing of the two main characters, Carmen and Lucas, mentally, emotionally, and sexually. Both Carmen and Lucas seem to have stopped maturing somewhere in their teens. Lucas was very self-centered, Carmen was very controlled by her boss. The romance wasn't very romantic. However, having said this, there was something about the book that kept me reading it. I hoped Lucas and Carmen would have something right happen to them. I enjoyed the ending and thought it was the best part. I received this book free from NetGalley for an honest review.
Super fun and SMART romantic comedy! I loved this book! Carmen and Lucas' adventures in New York's media scene and in the bedroom kept me turning pages. Highly recommended—I can't wait to discuss with my book club.
The concept is cute and different, which is what enticed me to request a copy from NetGalley, but I had the hardest time getting into this story. The beginning dragged on and I wasn't emotionally invested in Lucas by the time Carmen entered the story. It took a few times of putting it down and trying again, but I finally finished it. There were definitely funny moments, but I'm heartbroken this book didn't live up to it's potential. Not what I was expecting, and definitely not in a good way.
Boy meets girl, boy goes home with girl, girl happens to be a sex columnist and writes a scathing article about boy, boy responds with an equally scathing letter to the magazine. Uh-oh, they both work for the same magazine. It's not hard to see where this story is going, and it does - in a slow crawl. Mr Nice Guy is well-written, at least in the technical sense, which is the only reason for my second star on the rating. However, technical correctness aside, this one does not live up to the hype that caught my attention and made me want to read it. Compared to The Devil Wears Prada and Sex and the City, a funny and all too real comedy, the ultimate RomCom. Those are just a few of things I saw about this one before reading. I found none of that. Now, maybe it's just my sense of humor, but at just over the 50% mark, I realized that I hadn't laughed even once at this supposedly funny story. Not a chuckle, not even a smile, nada. And on top of that, I was bored. I didn't like the characters, most especially our main characters, Lucas and Carmen. They are both self-absorbed, judgy, and don't seem to care who might get hurt as they climb that invisible ladder to success. Carmen may as well be a prostitute charging by the hour with the way she uses sex to get what she wants, and Lucas, well, Lucas acts like a teenager having a tantrum most of the time. I suppose, when looking at it that way, these two are well-suited. I don't know how they even liked themselves, let alone anyone else. The pacing is slow, and the story is filled with way too much non-essential information. Setting the scene is important, and the reader does need to know about the jobs these people do as well as who they are and how they live their lives, but this one went a bit over the top with that. So, at around the 50% mark and 27 chapters in, I decided enough was enough. I didn't care enough about any of the characters to want to know how their story played out, and the book was just too easy to set aside and too hard to pick back up. Life is too short for that.
On the surface, Mr. Nice Guy is about two people criticizing each others sexual performance on a public platform. Carmen is a sex columnist for popular magazine: Empire. Lucas is an invisible fact checker for the same magazine who is unknowingly and anonymously featured in Carmen's column after a one-night stand. But when Carmen's no-holds-barred honesty and vicious criticism gets under Lucas' skin, he drafts a sincere and well-written reply under the pseudonym: Mr. Nice Guy, and the back and forth gets everyone's attention as the ratings multiply. The head of the magazine obviously wants to capitalize on this, so assignments are given to the duo on a weekly basis. The column is called Screw the Critics and the name says it all. I choose to believe a good part of this book is satire in nature. It's too over-the-top to believe otherwise. But the themes that stood out to me held a lot of substance in my opinion, such as: media ethics and authenticity, giving women a voice in an age that is not as feminist as many may think, the importance of communicating with one's partner about sex, and the lengths that a woman must go through to get a little power in a man's world. In addition to all this, there's a little bit of mystery, romance with surprising vulnerability, climactic betrayal, slow redemption, and a love note to New York City where this story is set. Married authors: Jennifer Miller and Jason Feifer have co-written an interesting story with a wide range. I will be interested to see what they come up with next. Thank you to the following for permitting me access to an advance reader's copy (ARC) of Mr. Nice Guy. This generosity did not impact my honesty when rating/reviewing. Source: NetGalley Author: Jennifer Miller; Jason Feifer Publisher: St. Martin's Press, St. Martin's Griffin Genres: Romance, Women's Fiction Pub Date: October 16, 2018
So, the first thing that popped into my head when I saw the title of this book was the Alice Cooper song. I had this song running through my head the entire time I was reading the book. Too bad I didn’t like the book as much as I liked the song. Which was sad because I wanted to like this book. I wanted to like Mr. Nice Guy. I thought the blurb was fantastic and described the book well. I was excited to read it. My excitement waned after the first chapter and was gone by the middle of the book. By the time I finished the book, I gave myself a mental high-five for getting through a book that was boring, unrelatable and unrealistic. Mr. Nice Guy had a good plotline. Lucas is trying to make it big in NYC. Working as a fact checker in a popular magazine, he aspires to be a famous journalist one day. He needs his big break. One night, he picks up a gorgeous woman in a bar. Thinking it was an unremarkable one night stand, Lucas soon sees an article written by a sex columnist that describes their one night stand. Boring and inexperienced were the nicest thing that she wrote. That columnist is Carmen Kelly and she works at the same magazine as him. Lucas writes up a rebuttal signed Mr. Nice Guy and watches as it goes viral. Soon, Carmen and Lucas (who is still known as Mr. Nice Guy) are writing a dueling column. Once a week, they get together, have sex and then write about it. Nothing could go wrong, right? When the book started off, I felt bad for Lucas. He was working his butt off checking facts but was getting nowhere. While enchanted with the City, he feels that he is getting nowhere. Then he meets and sleeps with Carmen. The article and his rebuttal launches his career into the stratosphere. Then I started seeing a side of Lucas that I didn’t like. He was selfish and self-centered. He gave little thought to his actions and how they would affect people. All he wanted to fame. And when he got it, he wasn’t sure what to do with it. Carmen tried to warn him but he didn’t listen to her. Towards the end of the book, my dislike turned to apathy. All his “good deeds” were done to ease his conscience. To be frank: Lucas was a huge jerk and I couldn’t stand him. Not that Carmen was any better. She was bitter and it came across in her writing. She wanted to be so much more than a sex columnist and was frustrated that she wasn’t taken seriously. I thought her article slamming Lucas was awful. I did start to like her the more I read about her. She did care about Lucas, as much as she denied it the first few weeks they were doing the article. It was her interactions with Mira, her grandmother, that I saw a different side of her. A side that I liked. Towards the end of the book, I felt bad for her. She got the short end of the stick with what Lucas did. It cost her everything but she found her true calling. I wouldn’t classify this book as a romance. To have a romance, you need chemistry. I saw none of that in this book. They had zero chemistry together. Zero. The lack of chemistry figured hugely in my review. Going with the lack of chemistry, I thought the sex was bland and unoriginal. I also thought that them having sex for a magazine article was a mood killer for me. I like it when my characters spontaneous, unexpected sex. Not scheduled sex that was dissected in a magazine article. What also made me go “Eh” was that Lucas slept with two other women while sleeping with Carmen. One being a call girl and there was no mention of condoms being used.
Lucas comes from a small town to New York to work at his favorite magazine, Empire. He wants to be a big city guy. He starts as a fact checker hoping to go up the ladder. He meets Carmen in a small bar and starts to talk to her.. She takes him home with her but it doesn't turn out well. Lucas had been in a long term relationship and is inexperienced as a lover. He doesn't know it but Carmen works at the same magazine and writes a column about sex. The next day, the column was all about Mr. Nice Guy and it wasn't flattering . Lucas anonymously writes a rebuttal to the magazine and it got so much publicity that it was decided that they would get together every week for sex and write about it. Carmen didn't want to have sex but she wanted the promotion. The way it was handled was interesting. Lucas meets interesting people, has adventures and lovers. One of his lovers agree to teach him about sex. I liked the way it turned out in the end. I wasn't offended by the "sex for writing". It was a new take on an old story. I received this book from Net Galley for an honest review, no other compensation.
Not much I can tell you about this one other than it wasn't my cup of tea. Lucas was cringe worthy at times and made me roll my eyes (which with the headache I'm nursing was not a good thing) and Carmen, though better, we needed more of her. Pitting them against each other in the work place was so unprofessional especially when they should have been a one and done. Frankly, if this had been a shorter book and condensed to get rid of some of the blah-blah-blah it would have been better and probably could have shown more promise. **Received this ARC for review from the publisher via NetGalley**
Mr. Nice Guy is tagged as both Romance and Women's Fiction, but I'm going to open this review by telling you that it is not a romance. There is no Happily Ever After. The hero has a relationship with one woman during the book, while he is sleeping with the woman you think is the heroine (for work) and then he ends up with neither of them. The story follows Lucas, a 24 year old Southern boy fresh off a broken engagement and newly moved to New York City to work as a fact-checker at Empire magazine. One day, he receives an invitation to Editor Jay Jacobsen's (called Jays) office and is ushered into the glamorous, over-the-top NYC media world. Around this time, Lucas goes to a local pub that was once a writers' scene and ends up going home with a gorgeous woman a few years older than him. Turns out, she's Carmen Kelly, who writes the sex column for Empire... and she writes about him. In the column, she dubs him "Nice Guy," and mocks him for being so solicitous that she felt she was teaching him what to do, he was not good at it, etc. He writes a rebuttal and sends it to Empire, without giving his name. Reader reaction is so overwhelming that Empire wants to make it a weekly thing and they launch a joint column called "Screw the Critics." Lucas won't tell them who he is, so he isn't getting paid, BUT they get assignments on where and how to have sex. Now, let's pause a minute. Carmen and Jays had a messy relationship and breakup in which he mostly used her and then used his power to make her keep quiet. Charming, right? Fast forward to now, when he's telling her to have bad sex every week with a specific person. For work. Any alarm bells ringing? Fine, I said, let's keep going. I'm only 10% into the book, let's see where it goes. The rest of this review will contain spoilers, so consider this your warning. Lucas and Carmen write columns for a few weeks that are mainly them being mean to each other. There's hate sex, hate kissing, etc. Carmen is criticized for being unemotional and for taking notes during sex. Lucas is criticized for not being able to read Carmen's mind and for not paying attention to her cues. Fair and also not fair. *shrug* At one point, Lucas makes a mistake and his friend Sofia finds out that he's Nice Guy. She offers to "teach" him and they embark on a physical relationship. Mind, he's still having sex with Carmen once a week for the column. That wasn't a dealbreaker for me, but I know a lot of people don't like the hero/heroine to sleep with anyone else during the book. Lucas falls in love with Sofia, even though she expressly told him she didn't want a relationship, it was just sex. He takes it very personally and carries his hurt feelings forward into what becomes a friendship and then a real relationship with Carmen. And then he decides to publicly state his love for her to the whole world. She tries to get him to a more private setting, over and over, while the cameras record and she tries not to lie to him but also not to give up on her whole life. She has a Netflix deal in LA, which not only represents a career change but also an opportunity to escape Jays. Lucas just wants her to agree to be with him. When she doesn't immediately give him what he wants, he reveals her as a fraud (she doesn't have sex constantly and sometimes makes up her columns) and ruins her life. ON CAMERA. Shivers of heat ran up Carmen's arms. Sweat prickled the back of her neck and her upper lip. This had not happened. Lucas had
NICE GUYS FINISH LAST; Correct? Lucas and Carmen are New York writers in a competitive industry also striving for an honest relationship. These main characters had little depth and were drowning in page after page of dry prose. There was some humor and there was the anticipation of a HEA that was never delivered. Some of the auxiliary individuals were at time more interesting than Lucas and Carmen. "A copy of this book was provided by St. Martin's Press via Netgalley with no requirements for a review. Comments here are my honest opinion."
I'm going to put this out there: I don't think Jennifer Miller or Jason Feifer have ever read a romance novel. I didn't hate this book, it's a slightly satiric, social commentary on dating and sex in New York City. It's general fiction. Which is fine. Just please don't label it a romance novel. I see why romance readers are having a hard time with this book. Romance is primarily written by women, and for women, not that there aren't male romance writers, there are, but the vast majority of the authors and readers are women. Mr. Nice Guy felt like it was very much written from the male gaze. You will enjoy this novel much more if you shift your focus away from the romance aspect of this novel. The first problem in this book is that 80% of it is spent in a 24-year-old man's head. Listen, I get it. I was 24 not too long ago, I have a 24-year-old brother. It was an entertaining glimpse into the insecurities lots of young men face. Sexual inadequacies, whether their head is too small for their body, how to get ahead in business, all of these things are realistic; but not at all what I want in a romance novel hero. I don't think the point of Lucas' character was to be likable (which is good because he wasn't) but I really wanted someone to root for, and I usually prefer that be the main character. As it was, Lucas had very immature characterizations of the people in his life, especially the women, a skewed idea of what a "nice guy" is, and a massive victim complex. I appreciated Carmen's character much more. She was a confident and successful 31-year-old sex columnist looking to start the next phase in her life. I have no idea how she accepted so much criticism, but I aspire to have the confidence she does. Carmen had an extremely adversarial relationship with Lucas at the beginning of the book, and while she is portrayed as the "mean" one, I would argue that Lucas had the harder blows in their back and forth columns. She talked about technique and confidence, things that can be changed, whereas he attacked her character and attitude. The second problem for me was the lack of emotion in 95% of the sexual acts in this book. There is no exclusivity (the hero is having regular sex with two women at one point), because of the column, both Carmen and Lucas look at sex with this sad and jaded eye that made me feel just a little bit worse about the world. Not exactly what I am looking for in a romantic comedy. Worst of all, this smacked of prostitution. Please have sex with this guy, tell the world, or else you might be fired. The whole thing could have been cute but the way it was handled made me feel a bit skeevy. The climax of this book made me feel physically ill. I wanted to punch Lucas in the face and Jays was evil incarnate. Again, this is what we're supposed to think as a reader, but it was tough to stomach. Lucas attempted to become a hero at the end; however, I wasn't convinced. Tyler was the only character I really connected with. He was way too good for this book. #TeamTyler he should have a real romance novel with Alexis where they meet at Noser. Overall, the book is an intriguing look into the world of journalism and imperfect, ambitious people. As I mentioned before, it is NOT a romance novel. I don't regret finishing the book, and I hope other readers connect with Lucas and Carmen more than I did. **I received an ARC of this book in order to provide an honest review**
While I found the premise very intriguing and promising, "Mr. Nice Guy" failed to deliver. Although it sounds like a fantastic rom com, it felt more like the miseries of Lucas. Lucas has come to NYC to work for Empire, a high-profile magazine, after breaking up with (getting dumped by) his girlfriend of six years and quitting law school. He feels that he is finally where he wants to be. Right now, he is working as a fact-checker, primarily for restaurant pieces, but he dreams of being a journalist. One night, after an emotional roller coaster where he was called into the boss's office (and had his tie commented on), he walks over to a beautiful woman in a bar, who then invites him home. He felt this upped his sexual prowess- until he finds out she writes the sex column for Empire, and has written a scathing column about him. He dashes off a rebuttal. Then, they are offered the chance to continue critiquing the other because it made such a splash (though no one at the magazine knows who Nice Guy actually is). Most of the book is told from Lucas's point of view, and he is a little full of himself and entitled to really feel like he is at all a Nice Guy. The book is also exceedingly slow and focuses on other minutiae rather than the column and Lucas/Carmen's interactions. As the characters were hard to like and the story slow, this one fell really flat for me. I am giving it an extra star for the idea, but overall I found this a tough book to get into. I'd label it more as an in-depth character study than the rom com I was expecting. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.