Loving You
by Maureen Child, contemporary (2003)
St Martin's Press, $5.99, ISBN 0-312-97844-8

Boring, er, Loving You is a bland book from series author Maureen Child (who also writes historical paranormal romances as Kathleen Kane). The plot is on the implausible side and the story of a struggling single mother falling for the injured ex-sportsman is familiar fare. Predictable characterization and plotting result in a bland offering that rarely display any spark or chemistry.

Nick Candellano, the third sibling of the Candellano family (the Finding You/Knowing You omnibus comes before this book), is an ex-footballer whose injury forced him to quit the game. He's now a sports journalist covering female soccer teams - eeuw, not that way, I'm talking about the game - while missing the game and wondering how he is going to lead a non-footbally life. Some amusing distraction arrives in the form of a lawsuit filed by eleven-year old Jonas Baker. The boy claims that Nick is his father. Nick is not amused. Sure, he played around with the groupies in his heydays, but damn it, he used protection! He decides to go seek out the boy.

He finds Jonas under the care of Tasha Flynn. Tasha is the homeless orphan who is taken in by Mimi, Jonas' mother. Now Mimi is dead and Tasha is taking care of Jonas. Tasha never reported Mimi's death though and she also collects Mimi's social security checks and banks them. We don't have social security checks in Singapore - the government prefers to jack up living costs, make our apartments smaller, and expect us old people to slave at McDonald's as toilet cleaners until we die - so I'm not sure whether Tasha can actually bank in someone's social security check. Can she? I do wonder though what she did with Mimi's body. She told the Social Services people that Mimi is on a holiday - a long one - and the Social Services apparently buys that story. Maybe Tasha ground up Mimi and made a nicely-stuffed roast turkey for everybody at Thanksgiving.

Tasha is very hostile towards Nick, so much so that I wonder what exactly does Nick see in her to even be attracted to her in the first place. Out of the blue when it's convenient to do so, Tasha decides that she's in love with him. I wish it will be just as easy for me to wake up one day and decide that I'm twenty years younger and ten times more gorgeous. Nick and Jonas fare somewhat better as the father and son tentatively forming a bond. Still, Jonas comes off more like a manipulative plot device than a credible character in his own right.

The author seems more intent on piling on the formulaic father-comes-home scenes rather than spending time on fleshing out her characters. Loving You is a standard tale of smalltown romantic drama, nothing special, nothing too memorable. The rather unbelievable "Let's lie about Mimi" plot angle tips this book more towards the Meh side, unfortunately.

Rating: 64

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