I’ve Got You, Babe

Something About Cecily

First Date by Karen Kendall
(Signet, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-451-21555-9
Some books are challenging to rate; when a book is uneven, it can be difficult to determine the most appropriate rating. With Karen Kendall’s First Date, I ultimately decided that the strong second half of the book makes up for a weaker first half, making it a book I recommend.

When Sydney Spinelli learns that her sister, Julia, is engaged to a man she’s known only one month, she takes the first flight from New Jersey to Texas to try and talk Julia out of getting married. Sydney is used to being the sensible sister. Julia has always had boyfriends, but this is the first time she’s been engaged. Sydney wants to meet Roman Sonntag, Julia’s fiancé, and see if he wants to marry her for her money.

After seeing Julia, Sydney recognizes that her sister is smitten, but she remains unsure about Roman. After telling Julia that she’s in danger of “screwing up your life for the sake of some jackass in a tool belt,” Sydney turns around and discovers that Alex Kimball, Roman’s best friend, is standing behind her. This unpromising beginning kicks off a passionate relationship between Sydney and Alex, one that starts with annoyance and develops from there.

While Sydney has good intentions, her meddling can be hard to take at times. For instance, when she hears a rumor that Julia and Roman are getting married because Julia is pregnant, she insists on Julia taking a pregnancy test. Concern is one thing, but this is going a bit far.

After his first meeting with Sydney, Alex seems like no great prize himself. To get back at Sydney for her disparaging remarks about Roman, Alex stops at a farm and goes out of his way to ensure that she is sweaty and disheveled when she finally meets Roman.

Thankfully, both characters improve with further acquaintance and start to see past their initial negative impressions. Sydney shows sympathy and depth in the caring way she helps with Alex’s mother, who has Alzheimer’s. Alex starts to enjoy his lively debates with Sydney.

Alex and Sydney’s First Date is a treat to read. Alex comes to realize that Sydney is insecure about her looks because she is constantly compared to her more-beautiful sister. During their date, Alex focuses on telling and showing Sydney how beautiful he thinks she is. He is ultimately a sweet hero.

Speaking of the date, I must express skepticism about the fact that Sydney can wear Julia’s two-sizes-smaller jeans. Even jeans with spandex can only stretch so far.

In the end, the second half of First Date is enjoyable enough to make this book worth seeking out.

--Alyssa Hurzeler

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