by Robin Allen, contemporary (2003)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-368-8
Robin Allen's latest, The Best Thing Yet, is a messy and unfocused read. It also has the dubious distinction of being a story where the heroine is pushed off the scene in the late half of the book and I don't even miss her at all. Or realize she's missing, come to think of it. It's a pity because in a better story, the main characters will be a nice couple.
Tangi Ellington is a supermodel. Good news, if you like these sort of heroines: Tangi has no hang-ups about her looks or her making money from her looks, she doesn't apologize for being beautiful, and she sure doesn't have weird sexual hang-ups to make up for her "defect" of being drop dead gorgeous. The continuous limelight gets tedious though, and Tangi decides to take a nice long vacation to Porta Palatea in the Caribbean to relax and unwind. There, she meets Steele McDeal (I pity him - the kids at the playground had to be very cruel), one of the few DAs that can afford to go to the Caribbean to unwind and relax. "Jane Doe" and "John Doe" meet each other and the chemistry is instantaneous. They decide to embark on a holiday fling which will end neatly and without any blood and guts spilled when the vacation is over.
But back home at New Orleans, Tangi's brother is dragged into a mess caused by his debt-ridden business partner and Steele may end up being the guy that will put Devon Ellington behind bars for a murder charge. So much for his hopes for starting something more substantial than a holiday fling with Tangi.
Tangi and Steele are a pretty likable couple. At the very least, they come off like human beings without any contrivances in personality - at least, for Steele until his Other Woman shows up. Tangi is still okay with me at the end of the book though. But the romance between Tangi and Steele is jettisoned completely for the suspense thingie at the late half of the book and secondary characters hijack the book entirely. The clincher is that until the last few chapters, Tangi pretty much disappears from the book apart from a scene or two where she learns of Devon's arrest and makes the appropriate noises. So much for romance, huh. The mystery isn't even compelling enough to make up for the loss of romance - the author concentrates too much on skanky sex between disagreeable characters or bad guys cackling like cartoon villains to carry the plot. At the end of the day, I don't think I can buy the fact that their vacation fling can turn into a permanent relationship. I don't see them interacting in ways that count outside the bedroom.
Oh, and I must also point out some rather glaring spelling errors, such as "sick" instead of "sic"*. These mistakes are very obvious that even someone like me can catch them. It's annoying how these mistakes escape the copyediting process - doesn't anybody know how to spell anymore at the Arabesque house?
A messy plot and worse, a promising romance sacrificed for this messy plot all contribute to make The Best Thing Yet a disappointing read. I like Robin Allen's writing style and the way she writes about realistic heroines and the men that love them, but this book just isn't the best thing that happened, far from it, alas.
* Okay, I've checked my Merriam-Webster dictionary and it says that "sick" is a variant of "sic". But "sic" is still the proper word to be used in this case. You don't think of "sicking" some problems at someone, do you?
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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