Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bookish Thoughts: The Decent Proposal by Kemper Donovan

Before gray hair, or crow's-feet, or achy backs and fickle knees, there is one sign of aging that makes appearance early enough to bewilder its young(ish) victims instead of alarming them, as it should. ~ Opening of The Decent Proposal


The Decent Proposal by Kemper Donovan
Harper Collins, 2016
Fiction; 320 pgs
From Goodreads: 
A debut novel in which two people are brought together by a very decent proposal cooked up by a very secretive benefactor in which the strangers go on one year of dates, one date a week, for half a million dollars each if they can stand each other for the whole time.
I really enjoyed Kemper Donovan's A Decent Proposal. I suspected it would be funny and maybe even a bit sentimental (although not overly so), and I was right. The novel also had an unexpected depth to it, which I found to be a good balance.

Our two strangers brought together for an unknown reason are quite different from one another. One is an out of work down-on-his-luck producer who enjoys partying late into the night and working off the hangover by sleeping in at his leisure. The other is a workaholic attorney who is every bit a perfectionist. When presented with the offer to go on one date a week for a year, Richard Baumbach is eager to give it a try. He needs the money after all. Elizabeth Santiago is more reluctant. Is this a trick? What strings are attached--because who in their right mind would do something like this? Deciding her life needs a little shaking up, Elizabeth finally agrees. Richard and Elizabeth begin to fall into a regular routine after a few rough starts. Their conversations range from the movies and books to life and the more personal.

I came to like both characters quite a bit over the course of the novel, although I most identified with Elizabeth. While not as compulsive as she is, we both share a love for books, and I could relate to the overachiever in her. Richard was charming in his own way (charming in a good way; not the smarmy bad way). He really is an all around nice guy. I loved his optimism. Both characters have their pasts to contend with, Elizabeth holding on more tightly to hers, which fits her character. She is a cautious person. Both are very caring people who seem to have good heads on their shoulders.

A couple of minor characters play a big part in the story as well: Elizabeth's homeless friend Orpheus, and Richard's best friend, Mike (short for Micaela). Both have their own ideas and motives in regards to the deal, and also both very attached and protective of their respective friends. I wasn't sure what to make of Mike at first, but by the end I quite liked her. And I am glad Orpheus's back story was shared with the reader as he is a character I was quite curious to know more about.

This seems to be another one of those novels I have read recently that is firmly placed in a particular setting and for which the setting plays an important part. While I suppose the same story could have been set elsewhere, the author's descriptions of Los Angeles, the diversity in the characters and their lives, really bring the Los Angeles setting to the forefront. I enjoy reading novels set in familiar locations, being able to visualize them more clearly in my mind.

I can only say so much about the end without giving away spoilers. Upon reaching the end, I wasn't sure what to think. There is a shift in perspective that was at first off-putting. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized how much it did fit--done up with that old Hollywood flare.

While the story and the direction it took was predictable to some degree, there were a few surprises. The mystery of who the benefactor is, the reasons behind the proposal, why Richard and Elizabeth were chosen exactly, being among those surprises. I was quite enamored with the writing. I was swept into The Decent Proposal quite easily and did not want to stop reading until I had reached the end. Even then, I am not sure I was ready to let go. Not completely.


To learn more about Kemper Donovan and his work, please visit the author on Goodreads and Twitter.

I hope you will check out what others had to say about The Decent Proposal on the TLC Book Tours route!







Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. I received a copy of this book for an honest review from the publisher. 


© 2016, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

31 comments:

  1. What an unusual and intriguing premise this is! I am so curious about the resolution and the surprises in store for readers. They're quite an odd couple to make work, aren't they?

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    1. Verushka - The premise is what first drew me to the book. I had to know more. :-) You wouldn't think the two would be an odd couple, woudn't you? But then, some say opposites do attract.

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  2. Its always a good sign when we are so swept away that we don't want to stop reading until we've reached the end. Despite what sound like several tiny misgivings about the book it sounds like on the whole you really enjoyed this one.

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    1. Tracy - I did enjoy it overall. There's so much I wish I could say about how everything comes together in the end. This might be a good one for a book club pick.

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  3. I always love when a book is set in a really familiar location. It adds a little bit of pleasure to the read. I'm not sure about this one. It definitely sounds incredibly different. I like the sound of Elizabeth and I think I'd probably relate most to her as well. The premise doesn't particularly grab me but the fact that you enjoyed it so much does. I'll have to look for this one. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Katherine - Yes, it does. It brings the book more alive in some ways, being familiar with the setting.

      I admit going in I thought this would be more of a romantic comedy--I think I even heard it referred to as such--but I'm not sure I would describe it that way having read it.

      I liked Elizabeth quite a bit. She isn't a perfect person by any stretch--she's made bad decisions in her life like most people have.

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  4. I love fun books that turn out to have more depth than you'd expect. This sounds great!

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  5. I like that opening! This looks like an interesting read. I'm adding it to my list.

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    1. A.M.B. - I will be curious to know what you think if you do read it.

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    2. I was looking for my previous comment (didn't see it until now). I'm going to read this one soon. It's at the top of my list!

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    1. Diana - It appealed to me too. I am glad I read this one!

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  7. Last week I read a review of this book by someone who didn't like it very much at all; it's good to get another take on it. I like the premise and think I'll have to give it a try ... see if I end up liking it, or not. :)

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    1. Lark - I noticed on Goodreads that this one has some mixed reviews. I imagine it will not appeal to everyone, but I came away quite taken with it.

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  8. This sounds like an interesting story, with the characters and all. I might give this a try given the right mood. :-)

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    1. Melody - It wasn't quite what I expected, but I enjoyed it overall. :-)

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  9. I'm interested in this one now! The premise sounds cool and mysterious, and I like that! Sounds like something I would really enjoy :) Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Annika - Who is behind it doesn't stay a secret the entire book, but the why remains a mystery until near the end. It was quite intriguing overall!

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  10. :) Sounds as if this was the right book at the right time for you!

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  11. EXCELLENT review, Wendy!! I very much enjoyed reading it!

    This is definitely a book I MUST read; it sounds absolutely delightful!! I love the combination of elements -- humor, mystery, and intrigue. Furthermore, from your descriptions of them, I KNOW I will love the characters! In short, this is going onto my Goodreads shelves right away!! Thanks for sharing!! :)

    P.S. I recently reviewed another TLC Book Tours book, titled "A Scandalous Proposal". How ironic is that? Lol.

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    1. Maria - Thank you! I really enjoyed this one. I hope you like it if you do read it!

      How funny about the similar titles in the books we read recently!

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  12. I love it when an author captures my attention right from the start and leaves me thinking about the characters after I finish the final page. What a treat!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

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    1. Heather - I like that too. :-) I am glad I took a chance on this one.

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  13. "a workaholic attorney who is every bit a perfectionist"

    I have a feeling I'll identify with Elizabeth too! I'm adding it to my TBR list (towards the top). Thanks for the review!

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    1. A.M.B. - I hope you enjoy it if you do read it!

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  14. The Decent Proposal sounds like a good one. I love it when I'm done reading a book and still not quite ready to let go of it. Glad you enjoyed this one!

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    1. Naida - I enjoyed it. It was a bit quirky and fun. :-)

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  15. Sounds like an interesting book! I'll have to keep an eye out for it!

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    1. Eustacia - If you do read it, I hope you will enjoy it. :-)

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