Somebody Wonderful
by Kate Rothwell, historical (2004)
Zebra, $3.99, ISBN 0-8217-7754-8

Kate Rothwell's debut Somebody Wonderful is priced at $3.99. That is the only subdued trait of this otherwise exaggerated story starring a Very, Very Insecure Hero and a Very, Very Feitsy Heroine (Who Can't Keep Out Of Trouble - Gotta Keep Bein' Spunky Now, After All) in a Very, Very Overflowing Kitchen Sink of a Plot. If I can stop eyeing this book in bewilderment, maybe I can make up my mind whether this book is campy fun or a train wreck at full speed ahead.

Timona Calverson, very rich heiress and drop dead beautiful and of course following Daddy's footsteps to become the Lara Croft of 19th century paleontology, is a spunky heroine who is in a dilemma. She is kidnapped while in New York City and is sent to work in a brothel. She should've stayed in Zanzibar, I guess, where the cannibals are friendlier than the New Yorkers. Never mind, she conks out her first client and dressed up as a boy, escapes into the alley outside where she is then set upon by nasty street gangmembers who proceed to whack the living daylights out of her.

Michael McMann, our cop hero, is like the Captain America of NYC: he works overtime out of his goodness of heart, he adopts and understands kiddies on the street, and despite needing to sleep after a long arduous job while wearing shoes that are killing him, he of course can't resist saving the "boy" that is being set upon by those ruffians. Never to let injuries hold her back, Timona decides that she must have Mick in her bed (or rather, his bed) and tells him that a week with her in his bed would knock his world off the axis. Mick hasn't time in six months for R&R of any kind (gotta save the world and all that, after all) so what can he say but yes?

Sex alone can't keep a story going so the author piles in dangers for our heroic duo - lots of 'em. Meanwhile, some baggages on Mick's part arise from his feeling of inadequacies where his pedigree and wealth (or lack of) are concerned compared to Timona's. But it doesn't matter what the author puts her characters through because Timona and Mick are too surreal. They aren't just heroes, they often go out of their way to prove that they aren't just heroes, they are Funky! Sexy! Feitsy! Heroes with a capital H.

Timona comes from a group of American rich folks who seek unconventional adventures - the premise of this author's series, I presume. While it is conceivable to imagine a group of extreme-game, danger-loving, thrill-seeking, rule-breaking people with too much money to indulge themselves even in the nineteenth century, Timona is too much of a cartoon character and Mick is no better. They, the story - too many things about Somebody Wonderful feel exaggerated. I have fun at first reading about an unconventional heroine like Timona but soon I start to wonder whether I'm stuck in some overlong Looney Tunes episode.

The popcorn fun factor is there in this story, making it more enjoyable than it should be considering its flaws and all. Somebody Wonderful has some campy charm going for itself. I wonder whether the next book will feature a giant boulder rolling after our hero and heroine as they race through some ancient temple in, er, maybe Roswell?

Rating: 72

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