Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Strickly Another Book Review

Take a Chance on Me
by Susan Donovan
St. Martin's Paperbacks: Romance (2003)
5 spangles out of five
Contemporary set in Baltimore/DC area
Heat: Just a couple scenes, but oh, baby!

It's always a delight to read a good book after one has just finished a dull one. But it's even better when that good book is flat-out excellent!

The novel was on the trade table at the last Heart of Carolina Romance Writers meeting. We bring in books we've finished reading, and everyone gets to fish through the piles until they find something interesting.

"It's got a doggie!" I squealed and realized I'd said that out loud. At least I'd said it softly. The book does indeed revolve around one Hairy, a Chinese Crested, who has witnessed the murder of his master.

Our Hero, Thomas, is a burly lawyer who works with the police and sometimes with said master. He's found he has a talent for posing as an assassin for hire. He feels guilty about possibly having been the cause of said murder, and takes anxiety-ridden Hairy in. It's too much for him, and Thomas is finally reduced to taking the dog to a doggie shrink.

Said shrink is Our Heroine, Emma, who has recently (1) gotten divorced from a real stinko, and (2) taken guardianship of her newly-deceased best friend's 12-year-old daughter. Everyone has been badly hurt by life, but this book shows that love is a great healer as long as it is accompanied by patience.

But there's also a heaping helping of humor. Thomas' attempts to de-anxiety-ize tiny Hairy are hilarious, and sometimes involve having to buy maxi-pads. Or explaining why the dog always has a pair of his boxer shorts in his mouth.

The sexual tension between Hero and Heroine is spectacular. It starts from first look and strikes deep, but is never overdone. The author prolongs our agony in getting them into bed. One hysterical, magma-hot scene has the two on their first date, sitting on opposite sides of an outdoor picnic table at a crab shack. For various reasons, they never even touch each other. You'll laugh until you cry.

Did someone mention sex? The primary scene is a helluva scorcher! It runs the gamut of emotions and yet dishes out steaming, gooey, all-day man-woman action. Woof! I can't recall reading a better one.

One bit at the end on the hero's part struck me as not being true to the hero, but things were wrapping up and our couple probably needed one final Bad Bump before things straightened out again. Of course it takes a little terror, a culmination of a plot that's been brewing throughout the book, to tie up all the ends and give us the Happy Ever After that romance demands.

The prose is sparkling, the repartee delightful. The characters are people you'll take to your heart. I'm putting Ms. Donovan on my "must buy again" list, this time with something a little more recent. I do hope she's managed to keep up the excellent work!

The book is a real keeper. Buy it!

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