by Deborah Fletcher Mello, contemporary (2010)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86163-7
Luke Stallion - not a porn star, honest - is the youngest of the amazingly successful and impossibly gorgeous Stallion brothers. Stallion Enterprises has made them all billionaires at a young age. Lost In A Stallion's Arms is all about Luke's turn to fall in love, and that lucky woman is the equally impossibly beautiful Joanne Lake who has valiantly turned her back on her family's money bags to spend her time as a volunteer at the local homeless shelter. When Luke is assigned to take charge of the acquiring and renovation of several buildings in the rundown Oak Cliff neighborhood, he decides to solicit the opinions of the locals in how things should be done right. This is how he meets Joanne. However, Joanne has a secret that can destroy their romance before it gets off the ground.
I really don't like reviewing books like Deborah Fletcher Mello's Lost In A Stallion's Arms. You see, the author took a two year hiatus previously due to real life issues cutting into her writing time and muse - or so I deduce from reading her blog - and, as I feared, this book turns out to be not very good. Ms Mello had written books that I had enjoyed in the past, so I have a hunch that the problems in this book were caused by issues that had nothing to do with her storytelling ability. There is no glory in panning such a book because I can certainly relate to how sometimes we tried our best but circumstances in our life still managed to hold us back.
The first problem with this book is how it has this "first draft" feel to the writing. There are some unintentionally comical sentences littering the story. Here's my favorite, a description of Luke from Joanne's point of view when she sees him for the first time.
And then she saw him, 286 pounds of pure delectable dark chocolate standing six feet tall in navy slacks, a white polo shirt and leather slip-ons.
How does Joanne know from a glance that Luke weighs 286 pounds? Is she some kind of X-man who can accurately judge a person's weight with a single glance? Hmm, can you imagine being friends with such a woman? You will be never be able to hide the fact that you have put on some pounds over Thanksgiving if this is the case.
The writing has a meandering feel to it. There are unnecessary repetitions. For example, Luke in the first chapter admires his body in the mirror, a scene that allows Ms Mello to wax lyrical over every rock-hard muscle of his body. When Joanne sees Luke later on, she will repeat the same things about Luke's impossibly perfect body. Luke is constantly gushing about how he just can't believe the extent of Joanne's beauty, charms, strength, confidence, and such. The constant reiteration of these characters' physical perfection soon becomes tedious and even annoying. Why can't the author let a chapter pass without beating me in the head about how perfect these characters are?
Luke is a decent hero - he may be well-hung perfection on legs, but he has a sense of humor and he also displays some lack of confidence when it comes to living up to his brothers' expectations. The lack of confidence allows him to come off as a little human now and then.
Joanne, on the other hand, is a silly character. Her willingness to turn her back on her controlling father's money is supposed to be some sign of independence on her part, but the whole thing comes off as just silly, especially when her deliberate ignorance of what her father is doing using her name becomes the main source of conflict between her and Luke. This is one of those conflicts that make me roll up my eyes because it could have been cleared up if the heroine would just talk to the hero instead of just standing there and wringing her hands.
She also does some silly things in this story. For example, when Luke offers a generous donation to the shelter, she berates him for being "like the rest" and using donations as a way to get tax relief. That scene makes sense if Ms Mello's sole intention is to lecture the readers through Joanne on how contributing to charity involves more than just signing over a check, but for the life of me, I can't imagine any charity that is in need of money turning down the check so that the folks involved in the charity can show the donor how self-righteous they are. And then we have Joanne's deliberate attempts to hide the fact that she is her father's daughter from everyone, including Luke. I may understand this move of hers if the father in question is a suicide bomber or serial killer, but he's just an unpleasant son of a dog. Is there a need for Joanne to be so melodramatic about her father? Why not just ignore that fellow?
Lost In A Stallion's Arms is plagued by awkward and wooden writing, some bewildering conflicts in the plot, and a heroine whose motivations half the time don't make sense. I can only hope that Ms Mello gets her groove back for her future books, because I miss that author.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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