With Or Without You
by KyAnn Waters, contemporary (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-60504-200-5

I can certainly empathize with heroine Tessa Brooks. She's very nervous. After all, her twenty-year high school reunion is coming up. Of course, unlike us mere mortals, Tessa has a daughter that helps her get on a makeover show and become transformed into a hot babe. The better to let Matt Toler, the father of her daughter, realize what he has been missing out on, I'm sure. What Tessa doesn't anticipate is being reunited with Matt during the live show as part of the special "twist" for the viewers. As for Matt, he is somewhat hoping to be reunited with some hot cheerleader he had hot sex with - assuming that high school boys are ever capable of making a woman feel that good, snort - only to be stumped when he's face to face with some woman he doesn't recognize at first. Well, he's in for a bigger surprise, I tell you.

Call me cynical, but I can never believe the romance in With Or Without You. The problem I have here is that Matt notices that Tessa is hot... and this is after the makeover given to Tessa by the professionals. There is nothing in this story that convinces me that Matt has developed anything beyond an appreciation of Tessa's exterior for the happy ending to work. Sure, he's a nice guy, but then again, if he doesn't know how to play the nice guy, he won't be getting any from someone like Tessa.

I don't know, this story reads more like a validation fantasy to me. You know, about how the woman dumped by the hot guy in high school finally getting back that guy, which means that there isn't anything wrong with her in the first place. Or with him, of course, because he's hot and therefore an extension of the heroine's self-esteem issues. And with me being me, I can't help wondering why so many of these validation fantasies have to end with the heroine marrying that guy. Why not just shag him and then dump him, letting him wallow in misery about the best sex he's ever had but will never have again, while the heroine merrily moves on?

KyAnn Waters' With Or Without You is actually a very readable story with likable characters, mind you. It's just that I never get this impression that this story is about love as much as it is about the heroine getting some kind of validation about her life by finally snagging the hot guy that tossed her aside without any second thought all those years ago. He finally loves her! Take that, skinny blonde woman from high school! Tessa has won! She has won! Hasn't she?

Rating: 75

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