Palisades, $6.99, ISBN 1-57673-445-5
Contemporary Romance, 2000
Not Exactly Eden takes place in the steamy jungles of the Amazon, and I’m in the mood for some Indiana Jones Romancing the Stone sort of adventure! Bring out the champagne, I… hold it.
While no, it’s not exactly a danger-filled adventure, Not Exactly Eden is a pleasant story of friendship and healing aborigines using modern medicines. It does make an Amazon adventure as appealing and easy as a trip to Yellowstone Park, but nonetheless, it is a very easy to read and very enjoyable story. The only problem is the absolute absence of sexual tension between heroine Jenna Marsten and hero Dr Adam DeSanto.
Jenna has always believed her parents dead in a plane crash in the Amazon, but when she receives an anonymous wedding gift for her now-postponed wedding, she decides to head down to the Amazon basin to find out the truth: is Daddy still alive? If so, why didn’t he even try to contact her? Her trip brings her into the depths of the basin, where her father and his partner Adam serve as humanitarian doctors for the natives. Adam is a bit wary of this city gal interfering his turf (that and his wife died on him and he has lost his faith in God soon after), but he soon warms up to her.
Jenna’s adaptation to the lives at the wilderness is well-done. She doesn’t prolong her bumbling screaming-at-shadows behavior, and she soon gets down to being a capable lady. Maybe a bit too capable at times. Adam doesn’t keep up his grumpy Amazon Swamp Thing act for long too, and soon they both and Daddy are like the best of friends.
That’s the problem – they’re best of friends. There is no spark between Adam and Jenna. Even when Adam takes off his shirt in the afternoon heat, Jenna notes that he is muscular and nothing else. Come on, don’t tell me one can’t talk about well-formed pectorals in an inspirational romance? Where’s the hormonal combustion?
Thus, when these two kiss and declare, “Daddy Marsten! We’re getting married!”, I go, “Since when did that happen?”
As a pleasant travelogue through the Amazon, Not Exactly Eden can’t be any better. But as a romance, well, it’s as exciting as poking electrodes into a piece of cold beef to see it jump about. Fun. For about two seconds.