Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-380-7
Contemporary Romance, 2003
This book could have used a better editor who would tell the author to remove all the scenes in this book that add nothing to the story but pages. Then again, if we do that, I fear Finders Keepers may be even shorter than its length of 253 pages. In keeping with the current BET/Arabesque trend of releasing barely-edited and very short books that can put self-published iUniverse and Xlibris vanity books to shame, this one nonetheless isn’t the worst I’ve come across. But at the same time, BET/Arabesque’s neglect in its editorial responsibilities won’t be helping authors like Michelle Monkou in the long run.
Nicole Montgomery gives up her hectic career after discovering a lump in her breast. Today, she runs a bed and breakfast in the nice sleepy town of Glen Knolls, Maryland. One day she gets a guest, Brad Calverton, just as her B&B seems to be in a non-functional mode. He turns out to be a reviewer. She decides to treat him nice. A nasty woman with ties to Brad show up with some sinister plans. An ex-girlfriend springs a nasty surprise on Brad. And that’s mostly it.
Along the way, I am treated with scenes that don’t go anywhere. Brad and Nicole may talk, but their conversational psychoanalyzing of each other often sounds straight out of a talk show. Meanwhile, conflict comes from Brad’s girlies “accidentally” letting Nicole know of Brad’s skeletons in the closet. Of course, it’s not his fault. It’s never his fault!
Even after the denouement, I am quite amused in a way to read about what Nicole eats for breakfast, who she calls, and all those tiny little inconsequential things that really don’t need to be in the story. The denouement is basically a misunderstanding issue with the hero stupidly allowing himself to be in a situation that sparked the whole nonsense and the heroine refusing to listen.
There is a nice degree of maturity in the way the author handles the scene where Brad wishes Nicole luck in her unreasonable search for Mr Perfect, but overall, Finders Keepers is a book that really needs to be tightened up. There is too much nonsense that is blamed on the hero’s sorry female acquaintances while the hero doesn’t have to face any repercussions of his dealing with them in the first place. But the bigger flaw is the scenes in the book that tend to meander in a disjointed manner. The author introduces subplots plenty, oh yes, but they don’t seem to gel together.
While it is as much the author’s responsibility as the editor’s to fine-tune her own book, in this case Michelle Monkou is a relatively new author. I can’t help feeling sorry for her, to be honest.