by Devon Vaughn Archer, contemporary (2011)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86239-9
As I'm sure you have guessed, Devon Vaughn Archer's Private Luau is set in Honolulu. It's a simple story. Raquel Deneuve runs an image consultant company, and one day, she gets a big and sexy client: ex-NBA star Keanu Bailey. Keanu has retired from the court, but he is keen on preserving his brand and continue making some good dough out of it. However, his public image has apparently taken a hit due to comparisons of his temperament and social life to that of that of Tiger Woods and Rasheed Wallace. He's really not that extreme, really, and he'd like Raquel to help set the record straight. Of course, asking her out during their first meeting doesn't do much to convince her that he's not as big a player as they say he is...
Perhaps I can start by pointing out the good things about this story. Both main characters are refreshingly normal and down to earth for being flawlessly beautiful people. The author also does something refreshing here with the hero's ex - she's a likable and sane character, which is a nice change from the usual shrill psychotic hags with a homicidal streak like too many ex-wives or ex-girlfriends that hide in the shadows of the romance genre. Raquel's insecurities about having a boyfriend who gets groupies throwing themselves at him are real and sensibly dealt with by the author. All in all, this one has the potential to be a charming and sweet romantic read.
Unfortunately, the story soon begins to go around in circles. It's pretty evident early on to me that the plot is not complex or interesting enough to sustain the length of this book. It soon settles into a noticeable repetitive pattern. The heroine will either think about her worries about being involved with a man like Keanu in her head or mention them to a secondary character, this secondary character will naturally assure her that she and Keanu are so fabulous together, she and Keanu get together. Sometimes, it's the hero talking to a secondary character or thinking about how amazing and sexy and whatever Raquel is. The secondary characters in this story all magically know - they just know - that Raquel and Keanu belong together, and they have no reservations about telling our main characters this. Repeat and rinse the above scenarios, occasionally switching the order, until it is time for the happily ever after.
Thus, it is way too easy to put down Private Luau and get myself distracted by other more interesting things. It's a pity, really, because if the author had come up with more interesting ways to keep the story going, this one may have been good. The possibilities are there, but the party never really come alive.
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