Short and sweet! This is my reaction to Donna Valentino's second (and I
regret to say, last) Loveswept Romance. If you like sweet romances
about ordinary people who have the kinds of ordinary problems that
threaten to destroy relationships, then you will like this book.
The story begins with the hero in a pickle. Connor Hughes organized a
charity picnic to raise funds to repair the fire damage to his aunt's
house. His aunt is known to her own nephew, as well as to every person
who went to fourth grade in town, as Miss Stonesipher. He thought he made it
clear that it was a potluck picnic and that everyone should bring a
dish. But this message didn't seem to have gotten through. Instead, he
has one tuna casserole and two dozen brownies and 200 people who are
beginning to as where their dinner is. Since he already spent the
money, he is in big trouble!
Just as the crowd is about to turn nasty, up pulls a caterer's truck and
out pours enough rigatoni, green beans, rolls, butter and the like to
feed an army. There is also a wedding cake. Connor's rescuer is Shelby
Ferguson and the food was meant to celebrate her sister's wedding.
However, the groom hightailed it out of town. Shelby just knew that the
picnic would be a flop because, after all, a man planned it. Just one
more demonstration of the fact that men cannot be trusted to do
anything right or to keep their promises.
Connor is immediately attracted by the lovely young woman and upset by
her low opinion of his sex. He wants to show her that men indeed keep
their promises, and before you know it, he has invited Shelby to see
just how willingly he will keep his promise to fix up his aunt's house.
Shelby decides she might as well help, and the two share the
misadventures of sharing the joys of home repairs and
do-it-your-selfing. (This is written in admiration by a women who heads
in the other direction the moment her husband picks up a hammer.)
As you can gather, the tone of Donna Valentino's book is predominantly
light and funny. The author handles the humor with a deft touch. Miss
Stonesipher, Shelby's flighty mother and sister, Connor's accountant
friend, even the stray dog who adopts Shelby are drawn with humor, but
it is a kind and gentle humor, not the biting kind.
But behind the humor there is a sweet love story about two people who
have rejected the idea of falling in love, falling in love. Shelby has
watched her mother and sister disappointed again and again by the men in
their lives; Connor lost his fiancée in an auto accident and refuses to
love again because he so fears that he will lose what he loves. Both
the hero and the heroine must confront their fears, perceive that life
alone will be but half a life, and learn to accept that neither they nor
the one they love should be expected to be perfect.
Valentino manages to create fully developed characters within the
confines of the short novel and to let the reader watch them grow and
change. The sparks that fly between them seem as hot as the fire that
destroyed Miss Stonesipher's kitchen.
Short and sweet indeed. I spent a couple of pleasant hours with
First- Class Male and, if you like a tender and humorous love
story, you will too.