Arabesque, $6.99, ISBN 1-58314-806-X
Contemporary Romance, 2006
Tell me I’m not the only one who can’t get that kd lang song out of my head when I read the title of this book. Constant Craving is related to Waiting for You as Ms Sims revisits the Bryant clan who own and run the fine Bryant vineyard in Glen Ellen, California. This time around, Franklyn Bryant gets his story. The story is pretty straightforward: Franklyn has always had a thing for the head chef of his restaurant, Elise Gilbert. Now that he’s doing well and he’s feeling a little sentimental after attending his sister’s wedding, he decides that it’s prefect time to make a move on Elise. Elise has feelings for Franklyn too all this while but she’s still smarting from a marriage to a manipulative asshole. Alas, before Elise can say yes and hold out her hand for that undoubtedly humongous ring, her smarmy ex-husband Derrick Scott shows up determined to get her back.
I have no problems with Franklyn and Elise even if their issues have shown up many times before in many stories with similar premise as theirs. Both have insecurities about love and marriage, but Ms Sims succeeds in making the two characters come off as realistic characters with some depths instead of mere stereotypes. Their relationship is pleasant to follow and there is really nothing wrong with the characters.
It’s just that Derrick, who ends up being the biggest nuisance in this story, ends up being more of a caricature than a compelling villain. At first Derrick seems like a fine villain since his abuse of Elise is more emotional than physical and therefore he should, by right, be a cunning creep. However, as the story progresses, Derrick becomes less and less subtle and more and more like a cartoon bad guy. The other characters are pleasant and likable, but with Derrick being a significant element in this story, him being a cartoonish villain is like Wile E Coyote crashing an otherwise pleasant and enjoyable family ensemble story.
Therefore, while Constant Craving offer a fine and pleasant few hours of reading for me, it doesn’t quite succeed in standing out among the other stories of this kind out there. It’s pretty good, but I can’t help feeling that it could have been better.