Do Not Disturb
by Christie Ridgway, contemporary (2004)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-009348-X

Does Christie Ridgway know something about Thomas "Painter Of Light" Kinkade that I don't? In this book, Stephen Whitney, "Artist Of The Heart", has just passed away. The beloved of people that place too much importance on commercialized "family values", this man harbors some secrets. He was a philanderer. Angel Buchanan should know. She is his illegitimate daughter. She intends to write an expose on this man for her paper when she heads down to Tranquility House and into the Whitney clan. However, the brother-in-law, CJ Jones, isn't too keen on this woman and he will protect the good name of Stephen Whitney as much as he can to keep the dough rolling in.

This book is exactly the same as any one of the "spunky heiress came home" stories out there, even if technically Angel isn't an heiress. Heck, CJ is even an ex-lawyer, just like every other hero in this kind of stories. Only this time the author puts in some not-too-amusing "retreat" jokes that see CJ deliberately making Angel's life difficult so that she will leave. (See, she makes him hot and he can't concentrate when he's heated up. He must drive away many of the female clients of the Tranquility House retreat in the past, I guess.) Straight down to the heroine's predictable "gee, it is quite bad to write exposes" epiphany (while the hero, of course, can be as disagreeable as he likes) to the hero's predictable overreaction when her deception is blown (and of course, this is right after the love scene), snore snore snore. Read one or seen one and in the case of Do Not Disturb, I've seen and read 'em all already.

The characterization of Angel and CJ aren't original either, so I find their romance is readable but unmemorable at the end of the day. The secondary romance is more interesting, although I find it hard to take Beth seriously because she is celebrated for her overly-dramatic doormat behavior and my reaction to her delayed epiphany is not "You go, girl!" but "Gee, that came twenty years too late".

This book is well written, but I find that the author hasn't done enough to make this book any more interesting or different than any typical "heiress came home" tale. The repartees are well-done, but more often than not, they end up with the heroine often making unnecessary concessions to the hero. Gee, Angel is flabbergasted so she can't come up with a suitable repartee to CJ. Hmm, Angel need coffee so she'll let CJ win this time. Ooh, CJ is angry with no good reason, but Angel is in love so she'll cry instead of telling CJ to stuff his own head up his ass. My dissatisfaction with the too-convenient resolution here is because the author and CJ make it seem as if Angel is entirely in the wrong and she needs to change when CJ isn't entirely Mr Nice and Holy himself. Then again, I also have this problem with the movie How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days and so many other romantic comedy movies. Also, an accident forces the characters to get back together when I would prefer to read about a heart-to-heart talk instead.

There is nothing particularly objectionable about Do Not Disturb other than the fact that it is very predictable and unoriginal. Any character development in this story, mostly Beth's, only reinforce the fact that the author could do so much better than this story. But hey, I guess undemanding crowd-pleasers like this book sell and the bottom line sometimes count more than anything else. The sign may as well reads: Do Not Disturb the status quo.

Rating: 71

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