Reinventing Romeo

Romancing Riley

Stranded at Cupidís Hideaway
by Connie Lane
(Harl. American #932, $4.75, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-16932-9
Laurel Burton is doing what she always dreamed of: running the medical clinic for her small island hometown, South Bass Island. In her spare time she helps her grandmother, Maisie, with her specialty bed-and-breakfast, ďCupidís Hideaway.Ē Cupidís Hideaway is a romantic getaway type of place, with rooms based on different themes and a gift shop full of edible underwear and sex toys. Laurel is happy with her life until she bumps into her ex-fiancť, Noah Cunningham, in the lobby of Cupidís Hideaway.

Handsome, charming, charismatic Noah met Laurel when they were both medical students. They fell in love and planned to get married. However, they soon realized that their career goals just werenít compatible. Laurel wanted to be a small town doctor, while Noah aspired to a hotshot career in the city. They fought bitterly, and hadnít seen one another in four years when the story begins.

So what is Noah, who has become the Golden Boy of the medical field, doing back on South Bass Island at Cupidís Hideaway? Well, apparently Grandma Maisie, in her desire to play matchmaker, has called Noah, telling him that Laurel has something of his that he may want back. That something is the ďGolden Apple Award,Ē an award that was given to the most promising medical student. Noah won the award. Laurel came in second place. Feeling bitter about the loss, Laurel sort of accidentally forgot to give it back to him when they broke up. Would most people care enough about a student award to totally alter their schedule and travel plans in order to get it back? Well, Noah apparently does.

Once Laurel and Noah run into one another in the lobby, Maisie takes off, predictably enough. She has engineered her little plan to insure that Noah will not be able to catch a ferry or plane off of the island that night. So Laurel is left with the task of setting him up at Cupidís Hideaway for the night. While Noah is, in a sense, ďstrandedĒ at Cupidís Hideaway, Laurel is not. She drives home and sleeps at her own house.

In spite of what you might expect, nothing much happens that night, unless you count an embarrassing trip to the sex toy-filled gift shop (he needs a toothbrush). In fact, that is how the book continues for the most part. There are lots of pages, but nothing really happens. In fact, the first 120 pages all deal with a 24-hour time span. This would be fine if there were actual events occurring, but sadly, this is not the case. What we have instead is a long and oftentimes tedious description of Laurelís every thought and feeling.

On his way off the island the next morning, Maisie tells Noah that Laurel would like to see him before he goes (not true), and sends him over to the clinic with breakfast for her. Once there, Noah helps Laurel immunize a couple of kids, and Laurel treats a minor injury of Noahís. All the while, Laurel is filled with conflicting emotions. She canít wait for Noah to leave, yet she canít stop feasting her eyes on him, fondly remembering each of his physical attributes. The next day she takes him out on her sailboat. Again, nothing much really happens. One minute Laurel wishes he would leave. The next she is sighing over his superior anatomy. Iím getting tired just remembering it all.

The book continues to plod along. They go to the town dance together. They rehash all of their old arguments. When it looks like Noah might finally leave the island, Noah and Maisie cook up a truly ridiculous scheme to keep him there for a few more days, giving them enough time to clear the air and have their happy ending.

Stranded at Cupidís Hideaway was extremely frustrating to read. I found myself putting it down constantly due to the utter lack of action. I have seldom seen a more self-absorbed, introspective character than Laurel. She analyzed each and every word, glance, and movement that Noah made. Her self-esteem problems were pretty unattractive, causing her to constantly compare her career to Noahís. She drove me crazy, and I couldnít understand what Noah saw in her. Noah did his share of analyzing as well, but overall was a pretty benign character.

The most interesting points of the book where the times when Laurel and Noah were remembering the beginnings of their relationship. I got the impression that the story of how they met, and what happened to break them up, would have been much more interesting to read. Another thing that could have made it better would have been more depth and information about the secondary characters. Laurelís grandmother was involved in a romance of her own, but not much was said about that. Laurelís sister Meg was briefly mentioned as well, but there was absolutely no development of her character at all.

While the writing itself isnít bad, the plot of Stranded at Cupidís Hideaway just didnít do it for me. If you like reading about characters who are into deep self-analysis, this book may be for you. All I can say is, please, please donít leave me stranded anywhere with this book!

--Kerry Keating

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