|Despite the fact that it's set at Derby Time, Fast and Loose is almost the ideal summer read. A little madcap, humorous, fast-paced, and full of quirky characters, Elizabeth Bevarly's new book is a bit of a thrill ride.
Glass artist Lulu Flannery – a stubborn, colorful woman using a veneer of prudishness to cover her inner hedon – has rented her house out for the few weeks before the Kentucky Derby. Horse trainer Cole "King Cole" Early is in town to run his horse, Silk Purse, in the Derby. Cole's a man that believes in luck, and he figures when he's run into Lulu three times, it's for a good reason. So, being a man with means, he hires her. Being a rich, good-looking guy who generally loves the attention, he's got a lot of ... fans. So he
wants Lulu, who is so not his type, to act like his date for the week so said fans will stay off his ... (fill in body part here); he doesn't want the distraction.
Unfortunately for Cole, the mystery woman from whom he had rented the house is driving him to distraction with her sticky notes and vibrant colors. Doubly unfortunate, so is Lulu, much to both of their surprise. When they discover that Cole is, indeed, renting Lulu's house, the embers ignite into sparks and the whole "I'm staying away from distractions" thing is shot all to hell.
Frankly, I didn't find Lulu all that great of a character, although she should have been. For all of her supposed quirks and hidden depths, she seemed more of a shadow than
the other three prominent characters: Cole, Lulu's friend Bree, and Rufus, the man suffering from unrequited love for Bree. Cole in Lulu's house just brings to mind the old
cliché of the bull in the china shop; and the combination of awkwardness, sophistication, and playfulness make him great fun. And I personally found Bree and Rufus' (although, God, what a name for a romantic lead) relationship to be much more suspenseful as well as meaningful than Cole's and Lulu's.
The Louisville-leading-up-to-the-Derby backdrop was great, letting the reader into what is a completely different, out-of-the-norm culture. The author is a native, so she'll give you a great feel for the atmosphere without overloading you with details.
Fast and Loose (a term which technically applies to horses, although it could apply to some of the characters) definitely is fast-paced. It doesn't offer much in the way
of surprises, but the plot and the setting will keep readers enthused clear through the final lap.