Romeo & Julia
by Annie Kimberlin, contemporary (1999)
LoveSpell, $5.50, ISBN 0-505-52341-8
Liz Hadley is 40, misses her dead cat, and is still grieving over the fact that her ex dumped her for a more fertile (and younger) woman. She's a librarian too. I should've seen that one coming.
Since she's a cat lover, hunky 30 year old aspiring-family man Alex Hogan passes her a stray kittie he found in the library parking lot. Soon they begin to spark, as Alex reintroduces Lizzie to the joys of living and having fun and letting her hair down. But he wants children, and Liz can't give any man any.
But do not fear. Liz and Alex have a procession of good buddies willing to help them settle down. There's always the stray cat Julia too to catalyze the cozy moments before the fireplace. And every moment in this story is so pristine homely and sweet that it becomes a relief to see the Bg Blowup when Alex realizes that his girlfriend is barren.
I'm beginning to think, after all, that I'm dealing with people so good and talented that I feel somewhat unworthy reading about them. Liz, low self-esteem notwithstanding, cooks better than any cooks out there, is a perfect housekeeper, sensitive, understanding, caring, kind, loves cats, loves children, and I bet that given the chance, she can fly. Alex is so devastatingly handsome that people call him Romeo, he makes perfect snowmen, he helps old people, he is a talented handyman, he lives in a great house even though he is only a bus driver, he has a great way with kids, and I bet he has a big dingdong too. And the best buddies are so wonderfully sensitive, caring, supportive, and behind them 110% that I can't help but to be charmed.
The author, however, slips up when it comes to this sort of thing. Charming stories with perfect people makes wonderful reading for Christmas or for a 100-page novella. For a book reaching 350 pages, the sole conflict is the children dilemma which only reveals how depressingly dull - and predictable - perfection is. I can't help wishing the South Park kids would make an appearence and start their Shut yer ugly mouth, unclef***a song, or that Alex and Lizzie would produce kinky feathery whips and dress up in faux leather, or Alex reveals that he's actually a hired killer.
R&J is nice, yes, but it also overdoses on the sugar factor. And the predictable plot only adds to the slowness of the pace. If there is one book that needs some lift-me-up naughtiness, this book is it.
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