Zebra, $6.50, ISBN 0-8217-6522-1
Contemporary Romance, 2000
One of the dangers of naming a book after a song is that I expect a singalong-ishly fun comedy. I’m geared up for a rousing time of fun and non-stop comedy. I need you baby, if it’s quite all right, I love you baby, you warm a lonely night. I love you baby… While Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You does deliver the fun and laughter, it’s more like watching a comedy routine where I am familiar with the jokes. It’s a comfy ha-ha instead of an oh-that’s-so-funny ha-ha.
Our fabulous rich girl Shelby Taite refuses to be poor lil’ Anastasia. Her fiancé bores her to tears. The man can’t even kiss her right! And she’s getting more and more suffocated with her life. So one day, right before her marriage to Perfect Parker Westbrook III, she packs her normal clothes (DKNY, of course) and hies off to the nearest bus station.
Our heroine’s gonna let her hair down. Starting spreadin’ the news! I’m leavin’ todayyyy…
Not if her bodyguard Quinn Delaney can help it. He is supposed to be only a temporary replacement for his partner – our hero, as befits a Romance Hero, lives at a higher rank up the food chain. When his partner gets injured while on a particularly strenous date, Quinn has to take up chasing after our heroine. He isn’t a happy man.
But when he reaches East Wapaneken, Shelby has whipped the town into a version of Happy Town, enjoying the pleasures of french fries and bowling pins. And the town busybodies soon matchmake Shelby with Quinn. They’re doomed.
Fun? This one sure is. Although these elements are depressingly familiar – kooky, spoilt lil’ rich girl who loses all her money and baggage ten minutes into Pleasantville, the all-knowing and matchmaking friends, her no-life her-only-suitor-is-bland-and-nasty pre-hero dilemma, the grouchy bodyguard, the way our heroine goes kooky-heehee because Quinn kisses her and makes her feel the fire (or something)… now, where have I read those before?
Soon, Quinn comes to be bemused, attracted to, and soon doesn’t want to let go of Shelby. Shelby, to her credit, wisely avoids being too much of a kooky, giggly dingbat. She’s still the same old heroine though – insecure, teary-eyed, and oh yes, who can forget her ignorance about the lil’ sex thing.
Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You is just what it promises to be – a light-hearted, fluffy few hours of undemanding romantic comedy. Fun but ultimately unmemorable. Too bad it doesn’t try to be more, really.