Risky Business Talk of the Town

In the Mood by Suzanne Macpherson
(Avon, PG-13, $5.99) ISBN 0-06-051768-9
I’ve often speculated that comedy is more difficult to write than drama. After all, humor is subjective; some readers and writers enjoy slapstick comedy while others prefer a subtler humor. I’m in the latter category, and if that’s also your preference, you’re likely to enjoy Suzanne Macpherson’s latest book, In the Mood. Although it contains a few overused plot elements, most of the story is fun, entertaining, and romantic.

Allison Jennings, single mom to Ethan, is experiencing a rough time. She works at the Tasty Freeze ice cream parlor but finds the situation frustrating. In spite of her obvious qualifications, she has been passed over several times for promotion to manager. To make matters worse, her car has broken down. And everyone from her best friend to her ex-husband believes she should get remarried. This presents a challenge since her life is focused on her son and her job.

Dexter (Dex) Needham has his own set of troubles. As a wealthy man whose fiancée left him at the altar for his best man, Dex is the subject of tabloid gossip. As one might expect, he is reluctant to become involved with another woman.

Things change for both characters when Allison attends the Needham family’s annual Fourth of July celebration picnic. Though initially wary of each other — Allison because she is reluctant to be involved with someone who has a high profile, Dex because he wonders whether she is interested in him for his money — they are strongly attracted to each other. After spending much of the day and evening together, they end up making love in Dex’s room. The morning after, Allison realizes that she’s slept with Dex before — and that he is probably the father of her child.

In the Mood includes two plot elements I don’t usually enjoy — secret babies and overbearing mothers. In this case, there’s a twist to the secret baby story since Allison believed her ex-husband is Ethan’s father until after sleeping with Dex. There’s a convoluted explanation for this and for why Allison and Dex don’t immediately recognize each other. While it stretches credulity, I was able to move past it and go on.

As for the overbearing mother, readers learn that Dex’s mother bribed his fiancée to run away, and she starts to do some digging into Allison’s past. She plays a big role in the second half of the book. I won’t give more details to avoid giving anything away, but this aspect of the plot takes a unique turn.

Allison and Dex are what make the story work. Both are engaging characters. Allison has learned to depend on herself, and her strength is appealing. Despite his initial wariness, Dex is charming and I loved his focused pursuit of Allison. In addition, once Dex learns that he is Ethan’s father, he wants to be part of Ethan’s life. The time he spends getting to know Ethan is admirable.

In the Mood succeeds because of Macpherson’s distinct voice and the even pacing, both of which make this book a delight to read. If you’re in the mood for a light, fun story, Macpherson’s latest may be just what you need.

--Alyssa Hurzeler

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