Series: Friends and Lovers
Author: Beth Ciotta
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: December 1, 2004
Publisher: Medallion Press
The Princess is in danger...
Beloved storyteller, Lulu Ross champions non-violence. Just her luck, she's tiara over glass slippers for a man who carries a gun. Professional bodyguard Colin Murphy is s-e-x-y. Too bad he's delusional. Who would want to hurt Princess Charming—a low-profile, goody-two-shoes who performs as a storybook character at children's birthday parties? Surely the sexy gifts from a secret admirer are meant for her sister, a bombshell wannabe action-star. Or are they?
Murphy is determined to protect Lulu whether she likes it or not. Perpetually cheerful and absurdly trusting, the locally famous kiddy-heroine refuses to believe she's in danger. Tipped off by the FBI, Murphy knows otherwise, but convincing Lulu that she's the fantasy target of a mobster's fixation is like trying to hang shades on the sun. Contending with a woman who favors bubblegum lip gloss and a pink poodle purse becomes an exercise in fascination and frustration for the world-weary protection specialist; almost as frustrating as resisting her whimsical charm.
What do a pink-wearing/bubbly/fairy-tale loving/slightly air-headed "Princess Charming", a former (I know there's no such thing!) Marine turned protector, an FBI agent deep undercover, a drug-busting operation, an overprotective P.I, his recently pregnant wife, a man-hating actress wannabe, and a gay couple have in common?
No, there's no punchline. What they have in common is this book. Which started rather iffy, if you ask me, because we're immediately hit with the heroine living in perpetual denial, a throwback to the Victorian times, hating violence, performing as Princess Charming for children, juggling at a casino, and viewing the world through her rose-tinted glasses. I kept waiting for someone to slice her throat and introduce the real heroine of the story, but it soon became apparent I was stuck with his...air-headed, bubbly, TSTL thirty-one-year-old. Wait? Come again? How old is she?!
That poor hero of hers. How is a guy to protect someone who is in denial of being in danger...in denial about everything, actually?
Well, their "association" started rather unpromising, let me tell you. How was I to believe a seasoned Marine, a realist, someone who's seen the world at its most ugly, would fall head-over-heels for someone so different for him (and don't give me the "opposite attract" speech!) in a matter of minutes? I'm still kinda skeptic about that part, mind you.
But after a while, the heroine turned out to be like mold. She grows on you. Slowly. And the bubbly, pink, TSTL persona turned out to be only one facet of her multi-layered personality (some might call her a schizo, even). And I actually started to like her, and I finally could understand the hero's fascination. She still had her TSTL moments, though.
There was also suspense, which somehow rode in the backseat...And somehow I was rather comfortable with that. It wasn't that the suspense sub-plot was bad, quite the contrary, this could've been a great suspense book, but it took the backseat to the romance and the comedy (provided so generously by the heroine). We had multiple stalkers, a possible majorly obsessed stalker, a mob family, an FBI agent working undercover, and an Ecstasy-pushing ring about to go down in flames. What's not to like about that? And no, it didn't seem crowded.
What seemed crowded was the rest of the story, with 4 different plots going on (hero/heroine, gay couple, P.I/pregnant wife, heroine's man-hating sister/her ex/men in general/FBI agent). Some of the scenes (not with the hero/heroine) seemed rather redundant and slightly filler-ish, but that's probably because this is the second book in a trilogy.
Still, it got pretty crowded out there, let me tell you.
All in all, after I got over the whole "the heroine is an idiot" (which was only a couple of chapters into the book), I could finally sit back and enjoy the ride. And it was quite a ride, quirky, funny, sexy, hot, romantic, sometimes TSTL (thanks to the heroine), scary, silly, suspenseful...But most of all, very well-written. I loved it.