The Way You Look Tonight
by MacKenzie Taylor, contemporary (2003)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-81938-4

Ten pages into The Way You Look Tonight, I notice this sheer silence inside my head while I am reading. What I'm saying is usually, when I start a romance novel nowadays, I will be groaning inside ("Oh no, not another dotty matchmaking old lady, oh, not another small town, oh gawd, it's a secret baby story, ugh, ugh, et cetera") but not this time. I am actually reading, at peace and enjoying myself, and it's quite disconcerting.

This book is like a blast of fresh air. It's a romance novel, simple as that, and it doesn't try too hard to smack me in the face with annoying bandwagon gimmicks like smalltown yayaisms, poverty-stricken heroines in outlandish plots to become a single mother, or Navy SEAL heroes. Sure, there're are a few friends and old women here, but they support the hero and the heroine rather than to manipulate them into matrimony. The hero is a millionaire, the heroine is an intelligent woman with a career she is happy with and will stick to by the last page, and they are equals when it comes to emotion and financial stability. In short, this is a love story, not a love story that just happens to spring up as the heroine stumbles around needing rescuing by the hero.

Like her excellent debut for Avon, though, the Jayne Ann Krentz overtones are very noticeable. This can be an asset as well as a liability. Why it's a liability is obvious, but it's also an asset because the hero and the heroine are allies and friends who work together to solve family issues with some minor external suspense thrown in, sort of like Jayne Ann Krentz, the lucid years. If you love reading Ms Krentz's gems like Trust Me and Hidden Talent and wish for something new from a new author, MacKenzie Taylor may be a pretty good try for only $5.99.

Jorie Morrison is a public person. She deals with people from a daily basis, from doing PR to teaching underprivileged kids music to taking care of her cousin Lily. Corporate lawyer Simon Grant is the more introverted type. A man who rose from rags to riches by hard work and a timely inheritance from a patron, he is wary of grand passions and unpredictable elements in his life. He is not too keen on his late patron's son David getting hitched soon to Lily, though, and he wants to keep a close eye on those two and determine if Lily is actually Anna Nicole Smith, only skinner and prettier.

When he suggests a prenup agreement to Lily and David, he finds that the two young ones start giving him mulish looks. Now he will never get them to listen. Drats, he need help. He finds a somewhat reluctant ally in Jorie. Jorie believes that Lily is rushing too fast into marriage, but she also believes that Simon is handling things all wrong. She isn't too keen when Simon approaches her for help, but he offers lots of money to the charity she supports, she decides oh what the heck. They may as well work together to see that things work out for the best. The fact that they are both crazy for each other doesn't hurt either.

The best thing about this book is Jorie and Simon's relationship. Jorie is actually a sensible and pragmatic woman with a more optimistic outlook with life and likewise, Simon is sensible, pragmatic, and is more than willing to open up to the right woman. He recognizes Jorie as the right person easily, and while he needs some time to open up to her fully, he gets there nicely according to schedule. These people talk and work together as allies first before jumping into bed, so their love story has a nice ring of plausibility to it. The fact that the heroine isn't pathetic and needing rescue, the hero isn't a Navy SEAL, and there are no bombs, ya-ya, matchmakers, unexpected pregnancies, secret babies - nothing - all are just lovely icing on this heavenly confection Ms Taylor has cooked up.

Where this book lacks the punch though is the slow pace and the fact that, towards the end, Lily and David's story becomes more prominent and these two kids just aren't interesting. Also, while Jorie and Simon are good together, the author somehow fails to inject sizzle or sexual tension to these two's developing relationship. I could use a little more heat in the romance especially when the pace turns really sluggish in the later half of the book.

While not as good as her debut as MacKenzie Taylor, The Way You Look Tonight is a pretty good book worth a look if one is tired of the current gimmicky bandwagon trend of contemporary romances. It's a simple, nice back-to-basics lighthearted love story with an emphasis on the romance. If this is how the author intends to do things, I'd say she is indeed looking pretty good as we speak.

Rating: 85

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