Avon Impulse, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-06-227398-7
Contemporary Romance, 2013
As you may know, I’m in the midst of moving house, so I’m reading whatever I can get my hands on, new and old, due to the current mess in my place. Kiss Me has been buried in my pile of unread books for years now, forgotten until I come across it and think I can certainly use some quick, easy read to kill some time. This one is more about humor and tropes than angst and drama, which isn’t a bad thing as these stories are too short for much characterization and emotional drama to take place in a satisfying manner.
Codi Gary’s The Trouble with Sexy buckles some stereotypes, so it has already scored some points with me from the get go. Ryan Ashton and her boss Gregg are good friends, but they each wonder about being more than friends with the other person. Still, Ryan is hesitant because her track record with romance seems to indicate that men find her boring on the whole, and she’s prepared to spend Valentine’s Day all alone while maintaining a cynical, sarcastic exterior to convince the world that she’s alright with that. Then, Ryan somehow bonds with Gracie, the kind of pretty and outgoing woman that usually intimidates the hell out of her, and Gracie helps Ryan let her hair down and get the man just in time for V-Day.
This one is fun, breezy, and easy to read, with easy-to-like characters. The relationship between Ryan and Gregg isn nothing really out of trope central here for the most part, but that’s okay with me as I’ve had fun. The need for conflict sees the author abruptly making Ryan and Gregg dumb dumb types when it comes to communication late in the story, however, making me roll up my eyes there and then. Do we even need such a conflict? This is a short story, so there’s no reason why those two just saunter off into the sunset gracefully. The conflict is just intrusive without adding much to the overall story.
Next is Cheryl Harper’s Love Me Tender. As you can guess from the title, the author titles each chapter of her story with titles of Elvis Presley’s bigger hits, and she also drops song titles here and there as part of the narrative to make the whole thing fit her gimmick. I don’t know why the author doesn’t go all the way and bring in more camp, though, as we are already halfway there.
Anyway this one has Julie Dillon being forced to be in close proximity with her hot colleague Luke Pearce in an Elvis-themed hotel in Memphis.
This is another romantic comedy with zany humor and sweet heroes, but the heroine’s insecurities drive me nuts. She keeps second guessing everything and assuming the worst of Luke that a more appropriate ending would be her having to walk home all alone. What started out as a fun story soon mutates into a tale of everyone bending over to reassure the poor little rich Daddy’s girl’s boo-hoo-hoo melodrama, and I can only go, “Oh, please!”
Jaclyn Hatcher takes over from Cheryl Harper and brings on full camp in Love, Guns, and Heart-Shaped Chocolate. Katie Quinn is another heroine who has to spend Valentine’s Day alone but will go all sarcastic and sassy to convince everyone that she’s totally on and fine with that. The hot guy is her best friend’s brother Logan Cross, who is sexy, dangerous, yadda yadda. The plot of this story is best summed up as “Wrong place, wrong time, wrong assumption!” as zany, wacky things happen to these two characters and precipitate their falling in love.
I have no real issues with this one – it’s what it is, and I’m fine with it. However, this is also the one story of the bunch that would obviously be so much better if the author had made it a longer story and allowed for the story to develop in a more organic manner. Here, the constant stream of wacky feels rushed due to the length constraints, and sometimes I feel like I’m watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon on fast forward. Still, as I’ve said, this one wants to be wacky, funny, and sweet and succeeds in mostly being all three, so I’m okay with it.
The three stories in Kiss Me are all perfectly fine as quick, painless diversions. If this is what you are looking for, this one may provide just that fix you need.