Runaway Bay
by Lisa Hendrix, contemporary (2002)
Jove, $6.50, ISBN 0-515-13264-0

Lisa Hendrix's ascension from Jove midlist status (sometimes known as The Bog Zone) to single-title contemporary (also known as "Look Ma, They Gave Me A Cartoon Cover Now, Whoopee!") is a pretty fun splash. Runaway Bay is frothy and delightful, and with the exception of several flaws too large to ignore, it's tutti-frutti holiday sun and fun affair all the way.

Normally I would comment about the immature behaviors of Drs Egghead and Airhead, but from my days at the academia, trust me, these two people are dead on. Once, there was a toxicologist in the department who is at feud with the virologist, and they roped in all their postgraduate students as well as honors students into the fray. The things they did, I tell you, deliberately borrowing stuff from the library just so that the other couldn't get their hands on it, sending spies to each other's labs... the mundane rivalry antics of Drs Egghead and Airhead here are nothing special.

Airhead (the name on the birth certificate is Jackie Barnett) is stuck in a plot device from hell, namely she is jilted by her boyfriend via voice mail. Her anal antics - making lists up and down before she commits herself to a decision - is apparently so off-putting that her boyfriend prefers to jump ship right before they are supposed to embark on a pleasure cruise to the West Indies. You can forget about this boyfriend thing, as Ms Hendrix apparently forgets about this as soon as the next chapter rolls in.

Airhead now just wants to mope, but she has to go on the cruise. See, this wealthy head honcho of Phelps Foundation, whose grant money every researcher has to kiss his butt for, is will be there too. Airhead will have to find a way to schmooze this guy for one million dollars to finance her research. What research? Now that I'm still not sure. But science is beyond the intellectual capabilities of a mere romance reader, I guess, so I'm not supposed to care. Right, people?

Egghead (birth certificate says Reade Hunter, and if I think that's a boring name, I guess, well, could be worse, his name could be Reed Hunter or worse, Sam Hunter *shudder* and he could be a Navy SEAL *double shudder*) is also going, and this time, he brings his mother along. He too wants the grant money for a research we romance readers shouldn't care about because we are, after all, romance readers and we clean the toilet bowl with our IQ. Anyway, the battle lines are drawn on Pleasure Paradise, and it's time for Egghead vs Airhead in a free-for-all spat, bicker, pout, and lust.

Airhead and Egghead may bicker and lust, but I like their repartee. Both are childish, but at least in this case both people are on the same level of childishness. The author doesn't resort - much - to making Airhead "kooky" or "slapstick funny", hence equaling the battle of the sexes war zone somewhat. And these two kids have fun and chemistry that seems to zing through the atmosphere. Funny and charming - I like.

A bonus is Egghead's mother's blossoming romance with the Foundation Honcho, AKA Pimp Daddy for Science. Mama Egghead isn't kooky, she doesn't play Tarot cards, and she doesn't wear ugly sweaters. And for once, she tells her son to stay the hell out of her life instead of muddling around Sonny's love life. Nice.

But the author really overplays her hand with Egghead and Airhead's want/don't-want thing. This story is all about Argumentitis Foreplay-Interruptus, and the amount of hot air adds up to an annoying ending that takes these two people a year to resolve their issues. A year. And their issues are so trivial and Nora Ephron-ish, a year is just the nail on the coffin of their budding maturity.

Kids. They are cute, but really, kids. Heh.

Rating: 79

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