by Sasha White, contemporary (2005)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 1-59998-053-3
Let's lay the cards on the table. I have this strong hunch that if you love contemporary stories by Lori Foster, Julie Elizabeth Leto, Leslie Kelly, and Alison Kent - I happen to enjoy quite a number of books by these authors so this is not a snide comparison I'm making - there is a high chance that you'll enjoy Sasha White's Gypsy Heart. There are many things about this book that are comparable to the category romance stories those authors often come out with. The heroine is someone who has had boyfriends in the past, a nice plus, and the plot is all about two people trying to have a relationship that goes past their instantaneous attraction to each other at a pub.
Sable Castle knows how to flirt with the male clientele in order to sell the drinks at the Zodiac. This is to say, while she's not some ridiculously promiscuous woman, she has had relationships before (nothing fulfilling, naturally) and she isn't above some flirting. She definitely doesn't go into catatonia or panic attack if she finds herself attracted to a man. Sable's a pretty good heroine in that she is very non-irritating from page one. That's good. It's instant attraction between her and Gage Dougherty when they meet at the pub. He's looking for permanance, she's looking for an affair. Surely there is a middle ground between them?
Another big plus to this story is that the plot focuses very heavily on relationship development as much as erotically-charged electricity between the two characters and Ms White does an excellent job in fleshing out the attraction between those two using conversations as well as physical contact. After all, the brain is the biggest sex organ in our body. There's chemistry here that is made even more well-done because the two characters are evidently very comfortable with each other.
Character-wise, though, Gage isn't too radically different as a hero. Still, he's a pretty good guy, if a little too obvious as one. Let's just say that the author has given enough very obvious traits in Gage, from his personality to his job, that can't scream "Look at me! I'm such a likeable hunk!" better than Gage wearing a Captain America suit with a neon sign hanging over his head. Sable on the other hand comes dangerously close to She's Starting To Annoy Me territory when she pulls an Ally McBeal stunt towards the end of the story. I really wish the author hasn't chosen to use that particular overused plot device as a conflict. (Not to spoil anything, but no, I'm not talking about secret babies or any other idiotic "unnecessary secret/big lies" plot twists, so no worries there.)
Gypsy Heart has its strongest selling points being a well-written contemporary look at romance developing between two non-neurotic and compatible characters. It's like a full-length Harlequin Blaze story, only this time the author isn't pulling out dumb plots like "I Need A Baby Like, Now!" or "The Terrorists Are Coming After Us - Let Us Come Together First!" on the reader just to have sex. In addition, Sasha White doesn't hold back when it comes her erotic scenes. While I wish that Sable doesn't pull that stunt she did late in the story and I wish the story doesn't turn out to be so predictable and ordinary at that point, there is plenty to enjoy about this book. Like I've said, perhaps fans of well-written spicy contemporary stories may want to give Sasha White a try.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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