Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-133-2
Contemporary Romance, 2001
What do you call a pleasant romance that is just that – pleasant? I think “blah” may be too strong a word, but my reaction is pretty blah. A Reason to Love is packed with enough predictability to make it a perfect comfort read for readers who know what they will get and will be happier for it.
The heroine Dr Onika Hamilton (or Niki for short) is a dedicated pediatrician who has lost three patients in six months and is this close to being a burned out loony bin. Her more adventurous, happier, more out-going best girlfriend (hiya Ms Trite, you’re making so many cameos lately in romance novels!) Kimberly Morgan Smith Goldberg Daniels Rosellini Morgan, who runs a dating agency, makes her home available for Niki’s R&R. Sneaky Kimberly of Many Exes even makes Niki take over her agency while she runs off for her own R&R. While she’s at it, she neglects to tell Niki that her landscape designer is utter droolworthy.
When Cary Thomas, the sexy landscape designer, shows up in question, Niki mistakes him for a dateless client. Why not? She met him when Kim and her were partying in town the other night, or rather, Kim is trying her best to force Niki “no, no, no no no” Hamilton, Fun Machine, to have fun. Niki thinks Cary is a laborer.
And naturally, Cary, who must love challenges, gets intrigued by this rude, snobbish, uptight, anal retentive heroine.
I like Cary, who is biracial and just can’t fit in between both worlds well. He even has a child to complete the Romantic Rich Single Daddy Hero mould. And Niki is everyone’s favorite heroine: uptight, neurotic, telling lies for the most illogical reasons, and in the end, whines that she is freaking lonely when her lies crumble around her. The author doesn’t go as far as to make Niki annoying enough to be a candidate for roadkill, so that’s a plus, but I can’t help but to wonder what Cary sees in such a boring, humorless lady. Their relationship is an unbalanced Tao thing: Cary the sensitive new age guy teaches Niki to live and let her hair down. It’s an uneven relationship: Niki takes and takes and takes, and actually giving Cary little to sustain the relationship.
Still, the prose is readable, the dialogue is clean, and the story reins itself from making the tiny misunderstanding sessions that thrives from overpowering the story. But Cary is a familiar character, so’s Niki, so’s that bratty kid of Cary, so’s that gregarious girlfriend of Niki’s… in the end, it’s just a blah story.