Review: My Mr. Manny by Jennifer Garcia
My Mr. Manny is Jennifer Garcia’s debut novel. I read a short story, In My Mother’s Footsteps, written by Ms. Garcia under her pseudonym Forbes Arnone, which I really enjoyed. (You can read my review of that story here.) So, when the opportunity to review her novel came up, I jumped at the chance.
Mia Balducci comes from a big, close-knit Italian family. She leaves all that behind when she moves to the west coast to live with her father. A chance meeting with a childhood friend leads to a whirlwind romance, marriage, and baby. Fast forward a few years and Mia finds herself in a loveless marriage, wondering where things went wrong. Her husband is never home and barely knows their adorable daughter, Lucia. When a defining moment occurs, there is no turning back. Mia must soldier on by herself and face the fact that Lucia’s father has no interest in his own child. When things become too much, she ends up hiring a Manny—a male nanny. What commences is a sweet and, at times, hot romance.
Ms. Garcia’s writing is evocative and descriptive without being loaded down with purple prose. I have an easy time picturing the scenes through her words.
Mia’s daughter, Lucia, was absolutely adorable. The author did an excellent job writing a child character. The dialogue was realistic for her age, and there were the typical misunderstood meanings and phraseology that caused her to ask questions when she was dealing with adult concepts.
I have to admit being a bit put off by Mia’s gaga insta-love when she met Dominic (the Manny) for the first time. It would have been nice to see the attraction develop in a more natural way, rather than her being rendered speechless by his beauty.
Dominic is Greek God beautiful and seems perfect to Mia. He fits right in and seems to relate to and develop a connection to little Lucia right off. The only hint of an issue with him seems to be a controlling streak, which I wish had been explored in more depth.
There was a great cast of three-dimensional supporting characters. The love scenes were hot without being explicit or fade-to-black—kudos to Ms. Garcia for straddling that line so well. There were some heartfelt moments and scenes that brought tears to my eyes. Coming from an Italian family myself, there were some great morsels of nostalgia for me.
I think this might have been better as a novella. There was a bit of telling instead of showing at the beginning. Personally, I would have started with Mia walking into her husband’s office and making the “discovery.” Much of the background before the precipitating event could have been cut without detracting from the meat of the story. The only other critique I have is a lack of drama once Mia and Dom get together. The writing was terrific, the emotions were present, but I expected more conflict.
The book was well edited; I only saw a few minor typos, and my copy was an ARC. I identified with the characters and the emotions the author drew out of me. Overall, a very uplifting, heartwarming debut novel. I look forward to reading more from Jennifer Garcia.
3.75 stars rounded to 4