Almost a Lady

Callie’s Convict

Cinnamon & Roses

A Promise of Roses

Tangled Up in Love

Walker's Widow

Knock Me for a Loop
by Heidi Betts
(St. Martins, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0312946739
Knock Me for a Loop is the story of Grace Fisher, a talk-show host, and her ex-fiancé, Zach Hoolihan, a professional hockey goalie for the fictitious Cleveland Rockets.  It’s the final book in a trilogy featuring women who knit and skeins of magical yarn that help bring True Love.  The problem is, Grace is an immature idiot and readers may well feel she doesn’t deserve true love.  I pretty much wrote her off after the first fifty pages, and she never redeemed herself.  Zach isn’t a whole lot better.

In a flashback, we find that Grace surprised Zach while he was on a road trip with the team.  Zach, fresh out of the shower, joyfully welcomed her into his hotel room. They were both stunned to find a nearly-nude woman in his bed.  Grace stormed out, Zach rushed after her to protest his innocence, he lost his towel in the hallway, and Grace got away. She then trashed his apartment, took a baseball bat to his Hummer, and stole his dog. That was six months ago and Grace hasn’t spoken to him since. She refuses to listen to his side of the story, namely that he had no idea who the woman was or how she got into his room.

Okay, right away this book was in trouble. The setup only works if the heroine is an unreasonable shrew, and given that they’d dated for several years and were engaged, one would assume that Grace knew Zach pretty well and had some amount of trust in him, at least enough to hash things out. But no. Instead, she stays in her high-minded snit until pretty much the last page of the book.

Anyway, a concerned older friend in Grace’s knitting group slips her a magical skein of pink yarn that supposedly will help Grace find her soulmate if she knits something with it. Grace is unaware of this, of course. Then Zach gets hurt in a game and his knee is badly damaged. He’s in a blue funk, having lost his girl, his dog, and possibly his career. His friends alert Grace, who reluctantly decides to visit Zach and see if she can get him to go to physical therapy. In a nutshell, Grace ends up moving in for a while, dog and all, and Zach tries to get her back. Why he even wants her is not explained, except for her Marilyn Monroe-like curves and platinum hair, etc. Zach seems pretty shallow himself.

I had so many problems with this book I don’t even know where to start. The premise was forced and made little sense. Why would Zach happily bring Grace into his hotel room if he had another woman there? This never crosses Grace’s tiny mind, but why let common sense get in the way of a really good snit?  Grace has some trust issues in her background that are supposed to excuse her unreasonableness, but I didn’t buy it for one minute. Her two best friends (from the previous books) never sit her down and have a blunt talk about her bitchy behavior, and if ever a book was in need of a Get a Grip friend, this one was.

Zach is little better. He sits around his apartment, wallowing in his misery, rather than pounding on Grace’s door and threatening to call the cops if she doesn’t let him in to talk. After all, she did vandalize his vehicle and home, and stole his personal property, but this is glossed over. Frankly, Zach is a wimp for putting up with her nonsense. When he finally gives up on Grace – temporarily – she is indignant. How dare he show her the door just because she needs “a little time to think”?  Give me a break.

The author tries for a hip, humorous style but much of it falls flat. The dog is a St. Bernard, which Grace re-names “Muffin” and dresses in pink dog sweaters and booties (I guess the author had to do something with that magical skein of yarn, although it might have made a better story if the dog had found his own soulmate). Zach wears t-shirts with slogans on them – except the jokes are stale. The old “they call it PMS because Mad Cow Disease was taken” line was funny 15 years ago, but now it’s just tired.  He also takes up knitting and watches soap operas. The constant barrage of one-liners and throwaway lines doesn’t substitute for character development, either. Speaking of which, readers will likely have no idea why Grace and Zach were together in the first place; their relationship isn’t explored and they have little chemistry together. Two good-looking people who liked having sex? Yup. Two people who know each other well enough to get married? Not a chance.

Knock Me for a Loop is an annoying, ill-conceived story that doesn’t work in any way. I can’t get back my two hours of reading time, but maybe you can save yours for something better than this.  

--Cathy Sova

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