by Suzanne Simmons, contemporary (1999)
St Martin's Press, $5.99, ISBN 0-312-96825-6
There are many problems in Lady's Man but there are also enough enjoyable elements in it to make this book a very entertaining read. As a plus, the author has quit the skanky villain trip she's on in her last two books.
An enjoyable tale of a couple on the run, this story begins when self-made millionaire Coleman Worth finds a female butler in his luxurious and exclusive Sonoran suite. Georgiana Burne-Jones has a great story to tell him. The client she's serving as a butler for is dead. The steak knife in his chest most likely has something to do with that. This man, Paul Isherwood, is generally an agreeable and undemanding client until he makes an uncharacteristic sexual advance on Georgiana. She fended him off, made a report to her superior, and now that the man is dead, Coleman points out that she is a likely suspect as they can make a case of her killing him in an attempt to defend herself from Paul because, say, Paul could make a more aggressive sexual advance and he wouldn't take no as an answer this time. Oh no, Georgiana wonders what she should do. Cole, who is missing the adventures of his youth before he becomes more proper and well-mannered millionaire, suggests that she runs off with him.
At this point of the book, I put it down and consider whacking it with a feather duster until my arm aches out of spite. Are these two people crazy? Won't it be easier if Cole just hire a good lawyer for Georgiana? The case against her is entirely speculation on his part and it's a flimsy case to boot. I wish the author has told me what Cole did to earn his millions. In the case of too many romance novel millionaires, his money seems to spring out of nowhere. If this is real life, I'd suspect that heroes like Cole must be involved in money laundering or drug dealing. Likewise, Georgiana is a mystery. I find it hard to imagine that a woman that is clearly qualified for better jobs would become a butler. Is the money that good? If Georgiana has shown some passion in her work, I may buy that premise, but here, she's a butler just because the author made her a butler. While Cole has a straightforward poor-kid-made-good past, Georgiana's background is quite contradictory. She's supposed to be estranged from her family because she refused to marry money to restore the family fortunes, but soon it becomes apparent that the family is definitely well-off compared to any middle-class family. Maybe the Burne-Joneses are just being dramatic people.
But all that quibbles - and the author's requiring me to completely suspend my belief altogether - aside, Cole and Georgiana make a fun couple. He's the unorthodox, go-getter, and impulsive type while she's the reserved and careful type. Ms Simmons succeeds very well in setting off firecrackers when it comes to the banters and chemistry between those two as Cole and Georgiana's differences in personalities allow them to complement each other wonderfully. Their run across the land of honky-tonk America is well-paced with amusing stops with various colorful characters that offer sanctuary along the way. This very well-done aspect of the story allows me to enjoy reading the story thoroughly despite my reservations about its premise.
I should also point out that the author takes full advantage of the heroine's unusual profession to provide some cute "butler humor". The whole "Do you think the butler did it?" thing can be too obvious and corny, but I really crack up when Georgiana's superior defends her reputation during questioning by saying, "One of my staff would never do such a thing. It would go against everything that I've taught them about service."
Still, one last thing before I stop. The author has toned down her tendency to use short one-sentenced paragraphs, but she still uses them here nonetheless. These sentences suffer from what I would call a thesaurus complex: the author repeats several words that share the same meaning in a series of paragraphs as if to drive home maybe humor, irony, significance, or something - I don't know what.
And it can really get annoying.
It should be stopped.
Because it is annoying.
There aren't too many instances of such annoying writing, but enough to annoy me every time I come across such scenes.
A really fun couple and an enjoyable love on the run tale makes Lady's Man a flawed but emminently entertaining tale. The chemistry is there, the humor and the fun factor are also there, so it is up to the reader to gauge as to how much unrealistic plot elements, annoying fragmented writing, and superficial character development she is willing to tolerate in order to enjoy Lady's Man.
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