It's A Love Thang
by Reon Laudat, contemporary (2002)
St Martin's Press, $6.50, ISBN 0-312-98302-6

Reon Laudat has written several books for Indigo, and this book is what she hopes will be her ticket to the big time. Hey, if me in Singapore can get this book while Indigo books are just something I read about in the Romance In Color website, I'd say Ms Laudat may be on to something here. Now if only Janice Sims and Leslie Esdaile will also go the St Martin's route. (I just paid an extra twenty bucks in shipment and handling for the newest Janice Sims book, so yes, I'm quite annoyed at BET/Arabesque at the moment for their pathetic distribution system.)

Where was I? It's A Love Thang? One of the finest contemporaries I've read this year. It would have been a keeper if the author has toned down some of the annoying Archie-Betty bickerings of her main characters, but that's nothing really. The smile and the warm feelings I get from this book are reasons enough for me to give this book two thumbs up.

Ebony MacKenzie's big break to be the best reporter ever in The Cincinnati Examiner will happen if she can get that exclusive scoop of an interview with the elusive Ice Cream King, Reuben Renfro. (You're expecting Ben and Jerry?) In the meantime, Isaiah Malone writes for a tabloid, a sore point with him and his father as Daddy wins a Pulitzer while son writes headlines like Man Coughs Up Twenty-Pound Hair Ball. If he gets this interview with Reuben Renfro, The Cincinnati Examiner will hire him. Take that, Daddy!

So these two begin clashing in a nudist colony (in a nudist colony, everyone can see every curve, ahem) and keep clashing as they take part in a paintball shooting game, share a tacky and smelly room, and embark on other various adventures that will convince non-Cincinnati folks that the place is crawling with lunatics. Normally I'm not too fond of very transparent plot devices to get the two people naked and even more transparent plot device bickerings to keep them apart, but Reon Laudat has created two very nice and likeable characters that practically leap off the pages and demand to be loved. And I can't fight the mojo, I'm sorry to say. Even at her most dingbatty, Ebony is a smart woman who isn't made to apologize for her big dreams - much - while Isaiah is just a little bit slutty but always sexy and likeable. But these people click so well and the sexual tension is so well done, I am willing to suffer through some childish snappings and bickerings just to see the lovebirds off to their happy ending.

There are moments of genuine poignancy though, especially towards the end, and I like them, but they don't really gel well with the more over-the-top humor scenes in this book. But they are a nice touch, as are other little things like the hero respecting the other woman and the other woman leaving with her pride intact, well done family relationships, and old women who are only a little bit dotty.

What's with the hairy, phallic-looking ice cream on the cover, though?

There are some really snappy one-liners here, drawing a laugh from me here and there, but really, Isaiah and Ebony are really likeable, adorable characters. Like that song by CeCe Peniston goes, It's A Love Thang, and it sure feels good to me.

Rating: 88

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