Friday, September 22, 2023

The Plant Nanny by Teresa Yea


I was browsing rom-coms randomly when I happened upon this book and saw the words "Rochester Farms." That, paired with the historical-looking cover, made me gasp out loud: "IS THIS A JANE EYRE RETELLING?" In case you didn't know, I'm currently in the middle of a project where I have made it my business to read every Jane Eyre retelling or Jane Eyre-inspired work I can easily get my hands on. Most of them have been recommended to me, or pulled from list, but I keep coming across others that I'd never even heard of before!

THE PLANT NANNY is set in Seattle. The heroine, Lena, was studying to be a botanist when she realized that her Master's wouldn't actually get her a career, so now she's a drop-out working at a plant shop that's about to go out of business. One of her acquaintances tells her about a spiffy job at a place called Rochester Farms, where the billionaire, Andrew Keene, is looking for someone to watch his rare collection of orchids full time and is willing to pay in both room and board.

It seems too good to be true. And it is.

Because not only is Andrew Keene rich enough to hire full-time plant nannies, he's also hot AF.

So this was originally going to be a four or five star read because the beginning was SO good. It made me laugh out loud several times. And even though the heroine is kind of a compulsive liar, and that's always kind of put me off because sociopathic lying-as-adorkable-awkwardness has ground my gears since my Sophie Kinsella Shopaholic days, I could sort of buy it for this character because she was portrayed as being so panicked and awkward. I also loved that she wore really thick prescription glasses, and how the author made a point of talking about how annoying it is to wear glasses when it's foggy or raining.

The problems started coming in towards the second half of the book. There's a scene where Lena kicks Andrew in the balls and then hits him in the face, and it totally came out of left field because Andrew hadn't really done anything to warrant that. And then she tries to attack him again later in the book! I always hate when women-on-men violence is played off as cute because it comes across as saying that women can't actually hurt men because they're so weak and cute. There's another scene which also put me off where Andrew lies about being a veteran and gets a military discount. I think that scene is actually going to offend a lot of readers, and here, it's just played for laughs.

There were still things I did love about this book, which is why it's still getting a three. It feels like a love ode to the PNW, and especially Seattle. The food descriptions were amazing and it's clear that the author really loves Jane Eyre. I'm kind of getting the impression that every book in this series of hers is loosely inspired by one of her favorite novels and I think that's a really cute idea. I also loved how on one of their dates-that-isn't-a-date, Andrew buys the heroine a nice pair of prescription glasses.

I'm not sure how I felt about the ending. It really felt like it jumped the shark to me and the ending felt a little too hasty and neat considering some of the ups and downs of these characters. Overall, I think I'd give the first 50% 4 stars and the second 50% 2 stars, which rounds out to about a three. I'll definitely be reading more from this author, though. I do like her writing style and she has a good sense for comedic timing, even if her characters sometimes go a little too chaotic OTT.

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars

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