BLOG REVIEW: Playing with Dynamite by Leanne Banks

Her 9 months of romance with late-20s Hero has been blissful.
However, having just turned 30 is making caterer heroine determined to pursue all her wishes and dreams.
Even if it means breaking things off with Hero and leaving the happiness she found in his arms forever.
She wishes for marriage and starting a family soon but Hero wants neither. Ever. And, no matter his words and promises of love to her, they don't include marriage and children.
Demolitions expert Hero doesn't want to breakup.
Yet he can't give her what she wants either. Waiting things out only gives her the time to find another man to marry & father her children.
Proposing a friends-only relationship may get him close to her.
But still not as close as he'd really like because of her resistance,
 even when things turn as intimate as they used to.
 She still won't take him back without marriage.
While he can't seem to tell her why he can't marry her.
How do they get past their impasse?
I'm a Banks fan but I didn't find this book as exciting as her other ones. Nothing majorly wrong. Just not as gripping and emotionally pulling as her other ones. The plot was quite predictable. Hero and heroine's romance was already quite stable. They knew their caring was mutual. Both were committed to each other but just not as much as heroine would like. Thus, the romance problem. Which the word “gamophobia” sums up:

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After months of struggling to get heroine back, Hero finally went to a therapist for his panic attacks when marriage was brought up. He was diagnosed with “gamophobia”, which is the fear of marriage. The poor man had full on panic symptoms (i.e., profusely sweating, getting dizzy, terror feelings), when considering marriage. He loved heroine & wanted to be with her always. But he just could not think of marrying her without feeling terrified. He knew his marriage phobia had to something to do with his mother dying when he was 12 and his father becoming depressed & neglectful as a result and soon marrying a horrible woman. He just didn't know how to break his panic symptoms from flaring at the word “marriage”. Hero could also see how important it was for her to be married and have kids, with her persistence in dating until she met the right marriage candidate. So, he became desperate enough and sought professional help.

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The whole "gamophobia" theme was unique as the main romance plot just because of how bad it was for Hero. It was so bad that he qualified for its mental diagnosis. The book centers around it and is the only thing keeping Hero and heroine from getting back together. As extreme it was as a problem for Hero though, it didn't feel that poignant or angsty for me. Maybe it's because commitment issues are common among men in real life. Or maybe it's because Hero and heroine were quite committed already that it was predictable that his gamophobia would get resolved & they get on with their HEA(happily ever after). Whatever it was this book was an average read for me. Their love and loyalty to each other was apparent. Although heroine dated many men during their break-up months, heroine's heart wasn't really in it and no sex was involved. Hero stayed loyal to and celibate for her, not interested in dating any other woman. He spent his time visiting his siblings and helping them out in various projects. When he was in town and not working, he would try to spend as much time with her as a friend, which was really him trying to dissuade her from her dates and convince her that they were meant to be together.

I admired heroine's firmness with Hero and even with her desire for him. It was a new dynamic in their relationship, since he usually sets the pace in their 9-month relationship and she was the one who usually conceded. She's basically a soft-hearted and kind person. So, being firm with somebody she loves was tough for her. But it had to be done. She valued herself—her dreams of a marriage & family—as much as she loved Hero. She knew herself enough that merely being with Hero outside the institution of marriage and without children would eventually make her unhappy. And, thus, their romance a big problem like it had become. So, she set limits and broke things off with Hero. They did kiss a few times during their break up. And even smexed once. But she was insightful in realizing that combustible sex was never going to be enough for her. She was persistent in her intent to find a compatible man to marry. It seemed desperate to me but it did show how single-minded she can become with her goals. Her firmness helped Hero reach his point of desperation and let him see what he needed to do to fix things on his end.

I moderately recommend this book.

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