Arabesque, $6.99, ISBN 1-58314-698-9
Contemporary Romance, 2006
Love in the Lineup features, as you may have guessed from the title, a romance between a basketball player hero and our heroine. The heroine is Roshawn Bradsher, who is last seen in The Right Side of Love as the more out-going friend of the heroine in that book. What I really like about Roshawn is that, even with her getting the spotlight, she remains a cheerful lady unapologetic about having been round the block and then more when it comes to guys. She remains who she is in her own story.
Roshawn has a rather unusual and somewhat colorful background. She was married to John Chen and pretty soon divorced him in an amicable process (they had a quickie right after the divorce). These two had far more compatible sexually than they ever could be as husband and wife. They led a pretty comfortable life, having joint custody of their daughter Ming and having uncomplicated fun in bed when the urge takes them. However, all that changed when John married again and moved away to Arizona, seventeen-year old Ming started displaying typical teen rebel-without-a-clue antics, and Roshawn’s business partner decided to quit on their beauty salon venture. As financial and parental issues start to pile up, Roshawn sinks into a depressed funk for a while until, at the start of the story, she decides that a change is in order.
After doing the necessary girlfriend-will-survive things (cutting her hair, et cetera), she decides to move from her place in Seattle to Arizona so that she can have a change of scenery while allowing her daughter to be closer to John. I will normally say that it is perhaps not wise to remain close to an ex-husband who has married again when one clearly needs a change in one’s life, but Roshawn and John aren’t exactly a typical example of ex-spouses. Roshawn becomes John’s temporary PA as she thinks about how she can start life anew in Florida, and that’s when she meets Angel Rios. John is a manager of a professional basketball team and Angel is being courted by John to sign up with the team.
Roshawn is a fun heroine because of her sass and take-no-nonsense/take-charge ways that always allow her to come up on top. She isn’t merely feisty though. Ms Mello provides some insecurities in Roshawn to give the character some vulnerability and make her come off more like a real person instead of a stereotypical sassy take-charge person. On the other hand, Angel is rather flat as a good guy. Roshawn is rather worried by her attraction to Angel because she feels that he’s too old-fashioned like John to accept her as a wife in the long run and, like she and John, they may be better off as friends with benefits.
Love in the Lineup is a pleasant read but I admit that I get frustrated at times when Ms Mello focuses on her main characters interacting with the secondary characters so often that sometimes the main romance seems to be submerged completely by the things going on between Roshawn with Ming, John, and their friends and between Angel with his father Israel. There are some ongoing subplots here such as Ming’s developing relationship with a young man that worries Roshawn, that keep Angel and Roshawn pretty busy as fix-it experts. Therefore, the romance doesn’t feel as well-developed as it could have been by the last page. This story can be too busy for its own good with too many things happening in Roshawn’s life all at once.
Nonetheless, the characters are likable types and Roshawn’s good-natured attitude is infectious. I don’t think the romance is particularly strong or well-developed, but I have a most pleasant few hours in the company of Angel, Roshawn, and their various friends and family members.