Mr. Complete
by Sheridon Smythe, contemporary (2004)
LoveSpell, $6.99, ISBN 0-505-52556-9

LJ Reynolds, or Luke to his friends, is shocked when people accuse the employees of his male escort agency of sleeping with the clients. No joke, Sherlock, who would've thought. Luke doesn't, because he has insisted not only on hiring married men to make sure that there's no hanky panky around, one of his employees is even gay. Being married has stopped men from straying since time immemorial, of course. Luke doesn't consider the fact that married men working for an escort service may not be too picky about what they have to do with their clients. Still, he's warned them not to touch, so I guess that excuses his eating a bowl of dumb for breakfast every morning.

He overhears Lydia in Danny's Bar and Grill ranting and foaming that her aunt has been cheated by one of Luke's escorts so she will now hire one of Luke's escorts, somehow trap this escort into bringing up sex-for-pay without actually dirtying herself (good luck at that), and then bring the whole Mr Complete company down. I'm not surprised when Lydia's spa business is failing, if the Plans she can come up with are any indication of her intelligence. Luke can't have that, so he will pose as that escort and show her who's boss!

A painfully unfunny slapstick adventure ensues, noisily enhanced by painful and contrived bickerings abetted by the usual dotty old women antics that authors like Ms Smythe believe are so funny. Lydia makes things even less palatable by turning out to be an orphan (let's bring on the Nobody Loves Me boo-hoo-hoos) convinced that she is unloveable because she is frigid (let's bring on more boo-hoo-hoos). There are some bizarrely out-of-place attempts by the author to demonstrate her characters' "virtues", including the Mr Complete's charity affiliation with an orphanage, because we all know orphans and male escorts will bring out the best in each other.

There is nothing believable in this story, which may still provide some decent escapist entertainment if the main characters aren't so stupid and prone to shrill bickerings over the most stupid of reasons, if the comedy isn't so painfully transparent and contrived (are zipper accidents still supposed to be funny?), if everything about Mr. Complete doesn't cater to the lower than lowest crassiest and most common denominator when it comes to comedy and romance. Factor in its juvenile treatment of sex and this book is a complete waste of time.

Rating: 39

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