Charming Lily

Sara's Song

What You Wish For

The Nosy Neighbor by Fern Michaels
(Pocket, $7.99, PG) ISBN 0-7434-7749-9
Fern Michaels is a writer I have read for years and truly enjoyed her books, although not all would be technically classified as "romance." This one is. I recommend The Nosy Neighbor because of the writing and the combination of the give and take between the main characters as well as the suspense. But I cannot give it a four-heart rating for a couple of reasons.

Lucy Baker is a high-powered defense attorney whose name has been thrown around for a possible seat on the bench. She is smart, classy and knows her stuff. She is also a bit nave. She and her brother operate their own firm, and have built up their reputation as two of the best defense attorneys in the country. When she starts to realize that many of her clients are really scum and guilty of the crimes for which they are accused, she decides to turn down the opportunity to be a judge and quit her law firm to live in the suburbs and work part time helping an elderly neighbor sell her popcorn balls. She has been engaged for two years to a jet-setting man who "brokers deals" named Jonathan St. Clair, and they plan to get married in just a few months. Lucy plans on being a stay at home wife and Jonathan has promised to cut back on his business travels once they marry.

Lucy is shocked back into reality from her suburbia heaven when she is confronted by two FBI agents telling her that Jonathan is actually Leo Banks, an international money launderer and murderer. Jonathan has set things up so that it looks like Lucy is involved and has millions in accounts and houses she didn't know she had. REASON # 1 how does a supposedly intelligent lawyer coast through life thinking that everyone is innocent, and then allow herself to be taken in by this snake? Here is a snapshot of their relationship: Jonathan goes out of town on business and comes home everyone once in a while. They have great sex. He tries to convince her to take on some cases of men who are in trouble; she refuses (although in retrospect she realizes she did defend two of his co-horts unknowingly). He leaves on a business trip again. He won't tell her what his business is beyond being a broker and she never really asks because he talks nice to her and gets her back into bed. This is a relationship?

Back to the story: Lucy's neighbor is Wylie Wilson, a corporate lawyer who is divorced and has a big dog who happens to love Lucy's dog. (Dogs play a big part in the story there is also a little terrier that belongs to a friend who plays a role). On the day of the FBI men's visit, the dogs get muddy and get in Lucy's house, ruining her carpet and furniture. Wylie comes over to apologize for letting his dog loose and they meet for the first time. Before you know it (within two days), Lucy has shared her tale of woe with Wylie, who is instantly smitten, and they now have a relationship. (By this time, Lucy has decided that Jonathan is scum and doesn't know what she ever saw in him, anyway). REASON # 2 Love at first sight is one thing, but this is a little far fetched. Any sane man would have run a mile away when told about the FBI; not to mention putting one's heart in the hands of a woman who so quickly dumps a two year old relationship and enters into another.

The majority of the story is a tense drama about whether Lucy is going to help the FBI trap Jonathan before Jonathan discovers what is going on and comes to kill her. Wylie is her hero along with two friends. Jake is a specialist in protection and the other friend just happens to be an ex-SEAL who knows how to get around expensive alarm systems.

For the most part, I really did enjoy reading The Nosy Neighbor. There were funny parts (generally having to do with the dogs and their antics). There were scary parts when the threat was getting closer. There were romantic parts as Wylie and Lucy discover their attraction. But underlying it all was the nagging feeling that Lucy was nowhere near as smart as the author wanted you to believe and she was fickle in her feelings. Wylie is a nice guy and seems to deserve better than that, making it hard to wholeheartedly recommend the book.

--Shirley Lyons

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