Tell Me You Love Me
by Kayla Perrin, contemporary (2003)
Harper, $6.50, ISBN 0-06-050350-5

Kayla Perrin removes most of her romantic-suspense-lite repertoire in Tell Me You Love Me. Unlike her last few novels that I've read, the hero isn't a jerk and the heroine isn't a doormat. It's a pleasant read. Unfortunately, there's nothing much going on in this story either except for a heroine playing hot and cold with the hero in a way so predictable that any old-hand reader can map her thoughts 100 pages into the story.

Personal fitness trainer Tyanna Montgomery hiyas and kapows this man who comes to her in a parking lot late one night only to realize that she's gone Buffy on her old boyfriend Sheldon Ford. Sheldon vanished a year ago with only a letter telling her that they were through, so Tyanna isn't too keen at all to see the man again. However, he tells her a story about how he went undercover (read: vigilante - he's also a fitness trainer who is only now trying to sign up to be a cop) to expose a man at her old workplace as a drug dealer with ties to the mafia. When his cover was blown, he had to disappear - hence his Dear John letter to Tyanna. Now the villain is dead, so he thinks he can walk back in, explain everything, and girlfriend here will welcome him like a grateful dingbat. There's no chance of that happening, as he soon finds out.

But the wily man hires her as his personal fitness trainer. How... predictable. And of course, seeing him makes her hormones kick into action, so she starts trussing and tossing around in bed and out of bed until she realizes: hey, why not just shag that guy out of her system! Deciding to emulate the heroines in those romance novels out there, she after shagging that guy becomes torn because she loves him, but can she trust him? No. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes.

Just when things threaten to cause the entire universe to fall asleep out of boredom, unfinished business from Sheldon's past comes back for the obligatory wrap-up. There is a secondary romance between Tyanna's friend and a guy she is going to nab for herself now that he's available. How convenient that that guy will be helping Wendy here and Tyanna make a video about personal trainers in a B-plot about those girls wanting to make it big in Hollywood. No, we're not talking about lesbian porno videos here, in case you are wondering.

Sheldon is basically a nice guy with lots of social activism just bursting to come forth from the guy. I like him, and he's a refreshing change from the jerks populating this author's last few books. Tyanna is pretty intelligent (if somewhat slow in matters of the heart), but alas, since she is driving this story and her saying yes to Sheldon has to take the predictable path, she comes off like a silly dimwit at the same time. The man is so nice and she likes his mother. Now that she realizes that he's telling the truth, what's the point of the whole "Must keep him away! Must sleep with him! Oh, oh, oh!" angst anyway? Her ex-boyfriends were jerks, I'd have thought she'd wise up to cling onto this guy. The secondary romance is okay: Wendy is not as slow as Tyanna here when it comes to getting her man.

Oh, and this must surely be the best line ever in a romance novel:

Sure, any vagina could make a man feel good, but he had a special connection with his ex-girlfriend's. (Page 183)

Thanks for sharing, Sheldon hon.

Not too exciting but not too annoying either, Tell Me You Love Me is a nice and pleasant book. However, I probably won't recall much about this book several days down the road. It just doesn't have that special spark to the romance, I'm afraid.

Rating: 80

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