Contemporary, Review, Romance

Neanderthal Seeks Human: A Smart Romance by Penny Reid


The author isn’t kidding when she calls this book a smart romance. It is full of words that are far from everyday and I found myself looking up a few in the dictionary, such as slamp and the numerous variations of that word. That one is only in the Urban Dictionary, in case you try to look it up. This book has a start that had me laughing over the very relatable trial of being faced with empty toilet paper rolls and an ending that had me eager for it to be over. Let me tell you why.

Janie is a condundrum. She’s highly intelligent and a walking encyclopedia. Her inner dialogue is long-winded and literally never stops. At first it’s a crack-up; the way she relates everything to some trivial fact, such as contemplating carpet fibers instead of thinking about her overwhelming lust for Quinn. After a while it gets old and holds up the story. I couldn’t decide if she was borderline autistic or just completely clueless. Quinn calls her naturally aloof and that is fitting. She is unable to connect with a lot of people and doesn’t seem to care. Even when others make open declarations to her, they go over her head. Biggest example is the predicable statement that Quinn is the boss. I saw it, every reader saw it, he even said it boldly to her face. Yet, it didn’t penetrate her mind until much later and then she’s inappropriately livid over the fact. Still, I liked her for the most part.

I didn’t care for Quinn at all. His redeeming quality was the fact that he was not turned off by her constant verbal diarrhea. From the get-go he’s overly protective and obnoxiously jealous. In the real world, these men are the ones who send up a red flag. Every man who stalks or kills his girlfriend starts out as a protective sweetheart. I had to keep setting that thought aside, but it was hard because he was all over her with his jealousy, bringing his temper to the forefront. He turns into a spoiled child when she prefers to spend the evening with her friends and this is not the only occasion where he reverts to toddlerhood. I’m not the only person who doesn’t care for him; his own employees look away in fear of incurring his wrath. He turns an independent, yet oblivious, woman into a giggling puddle of acquiescence. She was no match for his Mona Lisa smile.

Elizabeth is refreshing and entertaining. I did enjoy the scenes with her, but there weren’t that many. The series is supposed to be about the knitting group and its members, but they are a side note until the very end when suddenly they become interesting. To be honest, I’m not sure how many women are in it, because they all blurred together by a lack of detail and interaction.

There were too many things going on and I didn’t feel much satisfaction in how they were handled. Her ex is prominent in the beginning, but he’s not really necessary. The story could have been told without him. It’s apparent that she has trouble connecting to people, especially the opposite sex, and he wasn’t needed to emphasize that point. He faded away and was rarely spoken of again. The situation with her evil younger sister is barely set up in the beginning, but then it becomes the culmination of the book. It was too quick and there was a severe lack of build-up. Plus, once the knitting circle proves to be handy as far as the story goes, including banshee shrieks and groin kicks, the climax is literally swept under the rug. Quinn simply states that he took care of it. As a reader, I would have liked to know a little more backstory and I would have appreciated just a touch of the aftermath. The climax only last a few pages and was less than five minutes long. It was given the same amount of attention at the end as it had been all along.

There are a lot of good aspects to the book, mainly the author’s humor and ability to tie together arbitrary thoughts in a cohesive manner. Random moments are quite entertaining, because they are unexpected and filled with trivia that was fascinating and which I will not be able to recall later. In fact, I’ve already forgotten all her reasoning behind her personal rating system for people’s personalities or the sexual characteristics of mammals. This sounds confusing, but it is all in Janie’s mixed-up inner dialogue. The writing is very well done and the main characters are developed, regardless of the degree to which I liked them.

In my case, it would have been more fun if half of her thoughts had been cut out and the side characters and multiple plots given a bit more attention. It’s a lengthy book by a talented author, but I am torn as to whether I would read her again. What started as a fun, new read turned into a very predictable tale of yet another woman falling into the alpha male trap. I could see it clearly: Me Tarzan, you Jane.

Now, my rating:

  • Genre and general audience: hard-core romance and is geared towards a mature audience. It isn’t filled with situations that are necessarily inappropriate for older teenage girls, but the constant flow of factoids is probably more than a younger audience would be willing to read.
  • Level of sexuality: she thinks about it quite a bit. He’s hot. She’s hot. There’s bound to be sex. When it finally does happen, it is told through her id (Freud’s idea of the human pleasure principle), which she names Ida. It was supposed to be amusing, but it was long and filled with sweaty kisses and thoughts along the line of “Oh, my!” I wasn’t even sure if the deed had been done until the next chapter. The following sex scenes were just moments of intertwined limbs and were artfully skimmed over.
  • Graphic language: not much. He says the f-word a few times and she uses different variations with the word Thor instead of swearing. That was funny.
  • Did I cry? No.
  • Is this part of a series? Yes, it’s book one of Knitting in the City.
  • Level of character development: the main characters were pretty solid, while the secondary were a bit empty.
  • Did I laugh? I did, mostly in the beginning.

Overall, by the mighty power of Thor I rate this ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 stars. This is a good book, but it didn’t keep me engrossed all the way through.

Available here on Amazon


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