Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86375-4
Contemporary Romance, 2014
Lisa Watson’s Love by Design is quite impressive. It’s a lovers-reunited story, with a hero Logan Montague who can be quite ridiculous – and I’m not just talking about that name. Still, the author manages to make the whole story a ball of delight, quite the feat considering that this story contains some of the more irritating tropes associated with its premise.
Logan ditched Dakota Carson ten years ago in an eye-rolling “I have to be noble, and besides, she’d forget about me soon” stunt which suggests to me that he may have to taken to heart one too many stupid books by Nicholas Sparks. As Dakota puts it pretty succinctly, he told her to wait for him, so she did, and when he finally showed up in her life again, it was to dump her for reasons she never could understand.
Today, she is an interior decorator, oops, image specialist who is trying to build up the networking and client list that would allow her business to grow. Her latest lead turned out to be a creep who expected sexual favors in exchange for his help, so Dakota isn’t in a good mood when Logan shows up in her life once again. This time, he wants to hire her to give his family business, the Belle Cove Resorts chain, a make-over. It’s a gig for a lifetime… but does he have ulterior motives in wanting to be her client? Hmm…
There is a crazy matchmaker bent on pairing everyone up, which is the common element binding all the books in the author’s The Match Broker series. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry too much over what kind of mental issues or hidden brand of crazy that compels Norma Jean Anderson to be so obsessed with pairing up people around her, as this weird thing doesn’t overwhelm the story with her shtick. The author allows Dakota and Logan to hash it all out, lay everything on the table, and fall in love all over again. Actually, they have always been in love with one another, only Logan had this bizarre desire to play some kind of martyr ten years ago.
What I really like about this story is the way the author blends humor and romantic drama together in a way that feels natural and real. Logan can be an annoying mule at times, but the author makes it easy for me to see that there is no malice or self-serving pettiness in that character. Logan’s biggest crime here is cluelessness, and he has the self-awareness to realize how dumb he had been all those years ago.
Dakota is a pretty likable heroine too, although there are times when I feel that the author is trying a little too hard to lay it thick where the character is concerned. Yes, Logan didn’t treat Dakota fairly ten years ago, but they were silly kids back then. Having Dakota blame the events that happened after Logan left on Logan not being there has me scratching my head. Still, our heroine is generally a smart and likable creature who actually makes Logan pant and beg a bit before taking him back. She’s not some pathetic creature who jumps back into the hero’s life when he snaps his fingers at her.
In fact, I like how the author has both the hero and the heroine unable to get over one another – in similarly amusing and pathetic ways, too – instead of having the heroine shoulder all the embarrassing and undignified panting and sighing after the one that got away. I don’t see that in many stories, because for some reason, many romance authors seem to believe that having the heroine’s tongue falling all the way to the floor as she drools and howls sadly 24/7 like a dog over the hero that ditched her a long time ago is the epitome of romantic elegance.
Love by Design has some fine humor and romantic drama to offer, making this one a most entertaining read indeed.