LoveSpell, $6.99, ISBN 0-505-52518-6
Romantic Suspense, 2003
Lisa Cach’s spoof of James Bond movies is a riot. Unfortunately, it really gets bogged down later in the story by a contradictory heroine and too much psychoanalyzing that I end up wishing that the hero and the villain have run off together into the sunset instead. As usual, Lisa Cach’s Dr. Yes is thematically nothing like her previous books – in fact, nothing like most of the books out there either. It offers a nice road trip of a romantic adventure.
Rachel Calais sports pink hair and a nose ring. She is a tough tour guide in Nepal. While minding tourists in Kathmandu, she is approached by her friend and hero Harrison Wiles. As it turns out, this friend Beti and Harrison are agents for BLISS, an organization that… er, uh, I think BLISS’ motto is to kick the ass of bad guys who want to strike at women everywhere. Or something. This is a spoof, does it matter?
Anyway, Beti and Harrison reveal the dastardly plot of Dr Alan Archer. After years of being rejected by the weaker sex, Alan has decided that it is payback time. There is a plant in Nepal that produces some kind of chemical that can turn women into subservient sex toys, and Dr Alan Archer is going to find that plant. Rachel is asked to get hired as the guide up the Nepali mountains – with Harrison along to keep watch, of course – and they will stop Alan from succeeding in his dastardly plan. She agrees, thinking that hey, this is fun and there’s no way the plot is real. I mean, come on, who are they kidding, right?
Surprise – Alan turns out to be that Alan that she did the thing with ten years back. Ooh. Now Rachel is really in trouble.
As a spoof of those silly James Bond movies, this one works very well. We have two “Bond Boys”: both Alan and Harrison have it bad for Rachel. Not that Rachel did it with both men in this story – she only does it with Harrison, if you’re concerned about that sort of thing. Harrison, despite having a British accent and looking just like a debonair British spy should be, is actually an adorable guy who blushes when ladies come on to him. He wants to respect women, you know, and he hopes women will reciprocate and view him as a person and not just a sexual imagery. Yeah, yeah, Harry, I respect ya, now take off those pants. The villain isn’t just a villain, he’s also a rather sad fellow who has been rejected by women so much that he just snaps and descends into megalomania. Not that I condone his actions even a little bit, mind you, but I do empathize with the lifelong rejection thing. Alan Archer is not very easy to hate.
Okay, okay, I confess, I feel so sorry for this idiot who just wants to be loved by all the women in the world – after he pulverized all those useless men, naturally – and have Snickers bars all day long. I hope he finds his true love in his Thai remake of Oz. I feel so dirty saying that. Next thing I know, I will be writing love letters to men on the death row and then I will really commit myself to an asylum.
The adventures move on a steady pace, but alas, the author chooses to focus on the relationship between Rachel and Harrison as the story moves along instead of just piling on the farce value. The problem is, Rachel is just not interesting or likable. She’s a mess. Her sexual attitude runs all over the place – she has no qualms about having sex but at the same time she gets offended when the hero offers her a box of condoms and she seems to be ashamed of her sexual past as well. What is this, self loathing at work? Some of her actions towards Harrison also make me uncomfortable as she is basically sexually -and sometimes physically – harassing that man by saying sexually charged subjects just to make him uncomfortable so as to drive him away.
Also, those two begin to spend more time on the road lusting after each other instead of focusing on the mission at hand. Forget professionalism, this is not reassuring if they are to save womankind of the world. The resolution makes me wonder – that easy, huh? – and scratch my head a little.
I enjoy reading Dr. Yes because it’s a nice change from the usual romance novel. But at the same time, the annoying heroine and the failure to capitalize fully on its farce potential prevent the book from being that great. It has enough – comedy, adventure, an adorable hero – for me to commend it, but still, there’s always something stopping me from saying yes to this book unreservedly and unconditionally.