by Karen Hawkins, contemporary (2010)
Pocket, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4165-6027-2
Lois Lane Tells All is a rather misleading title as the heroine is Susan Collins and Lois Lane isn't even her nickname, and not only that, she has no saucy confession like sordid affairs with married professional golfers to reveal in this book. The reason Lois Lane comes up in this story is because Susan likes to imagine that she, being a reporter, is like Lois Lane. Oh, and she compares the hero, who is your hunk with glasses kind of geek, to Clark Kent.
Ms Hawkins returns to Glory, North Carolina, where everything and everyone in the background aspires to be a rip-off from a book by Janet Evanovich. From dotty old women bossing around hapless old men and running wild to unruly giant puppies, there is nothing here that will surprise readers used to such "comedy". Right into the muddle arrives our hero, Mark Tremayne. He is a big city guy, who is in Glory only temporarily to act as the Chief Financial Officer of The Glory Examiner. The Glory Examiner is the troubled local newspaper recently acquired by Mark's sister, and Mark aims to stay long enough only to whip the company back in shape and out of its current state of financial woes. As it happens, the chief editor and one of the only two staff writers, Susan Collins, is a va-va-voom hot babe in tight short skirts...
Susan is at first exasperated by Mark's high-handed ways, but soon these two are sizzling up the office and between the sheets. Meanwhile, Susan decides to poke her nose into the previous year's Baptist Church Bake-Off, of which $30,000 of the proceeds vanished without a trace. Nobody is willing to talk to Susan about this, but someone is definitely not happy with Susan's efforts, because soon strange "accidents" begin happening around her.
First thing first - I should warn readers that this story isn't the most politically correct one in the sense that Mark wouldn't have worked so well with Susan if she hadn't hypnotized him with her cleavage and her short skirts. In other words, this is one story where, despite Ms Hawkins careful claims that Mark respects Susan's intelligence and what not, Mark's actions reveal otherwise. He barely pays attention to what she is saying most of the time because he's busy checking out her rear end and cleavage while fantasizing about the sexual things he'd like to do to her. If Susan looks like, say, her colleague Pam, I doubt Mark would work so well with her. So, I'd suggest that readers who may not be comfortable with the fact that the heroine's physical appearance helps her get the upper hand (leg?) over the hero in a professional context should approach this one with caution. Ms Hawkins is aware of this, because she works overtime by having Mark claim that he loves Susan's brainpower, et cetera. But it's all talk. One only has to see how Mark behaves around Susan to see him for what he is.
I personally don't mind this aspect of the story, and in fact, a part of me is pleased that Susan hones in at once on Mark's weakness and makes sure that her best assets are displayed prominently in order to get her way. I don't often come across heroines who don't spend so much time downplaying their physical assets, after all. I also like the fact that Susan knows that she is single and available, so she isn't above exploring her chemistry with Mark. Ms Hawkins doesn't come up with contrived reasons as to why Susan must stay away from Mark, and as a result, the relationship actually flows smoothly and naturally, with plenty of sexual tension and chemistry coming through like dazzling sparks in a fireworks show.
Both Susan and Mark are likable characters. Oh, they have some issues - Susan's father is a drunk on a downward spiral and there are hinted issues between Mark and his mother - but they do not spend time wallowing on these issues. Instead, they come off like likable and well-adjusted people who have the right chemistry together. Of course, these two also have no notion of professional boundaries, but I'm willing to go along with that since I am having a good time following these two.
The plot is quite weak though. I manage to correctly predict the motives and identities of the shady people involved in the plot early in the story, and the resolution reeks a little too much like a Hallmark movie for me. The old people gone wild thankfully remain tolerable for the most part, and this is because for the bulk of the story they are in the background. When they do hog the scene, they do little other than to plunge the story into slapstick tomfoolery, sigh. It's a good thing, thus, that they show up in small doses.
The greatest strength of Lois Lane Tells All is the sizzling romance that has wonderful humorous exchanges, hot sexual tension, and love scenes that are a bit more raunchy than the author's usual fare. The plot and the tired small town comedy stereotypes are on the uninspired side, but it's hard for me to be down on this book when I'm too busy laughing and having a good time with Susan and Mark.
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