I Heart You
by Aurora Black, contemporary (2007)
Phaze, $3.50, ISBN 1-59426-916-5


Poor Rachel Malone. Our romance author heroine has been receiving a few sinister emails filled with threats on her life. The person behind this believes that romance authors like Rachel hate men, you see, because they write about this perfect man that must have put real men to shame or something. Clearly someone with a tiny penis must have been secretly reading his mother's stash of romance novels and get his already thin hold on reality warped even further as a result.

Then again, even with a policeman guarding her as she goes around on her bookstore chain appearances, Rachel illustrates that sometimes it isn't the reader that loses sight of the boundary between fiction and real life:

With reluctance, Rachel let go of his hand. "I like the name Lucian. It suits you."

He sat down in the chair next to her, his interest clear. "How so? I'm curious."

Her heart pounded at his nearness, and dizziness assailed her. Rachel's imagination kicked into overdrive, and her mind filled with images of him fighting in a duel to save his lady's honor, or swinging a sword on the battlefield for the greater good. She pictured him rushing into a burning building to save his true love, his muscles flexing as he lifted her, carrying her to safety. Indeed, his name fit him well. Rachel wet her lips as other scenes danced in her writer's brain: the warmth of his breath against her neck while making love, the intoxicating scent of sandelwood and man on her skin, and the sight of their bodies entwined on satin sheets.

With effort, she distanced herself from her erotic daydream. "You have a bit of the Devil in you, but you wouldn't hesitate to help a damsel in distress."

She is talking to a man she has just met who told her his name is Lucian Drake. Since she's being stalked by someone who is clearly demented, should she be encouraging random strangers by talking like this? And then:

Lucian leaned forward, giving her a sexy grin. "Perhaps I do." Then his face turned serious, his voice low. "I think you have a naughty streak as well, Rachel Malone. You pen your wildest fantasies, teasing millions with glimpses of your sexual soul. Women read your books and envy your talent and imagination. They want to be you. Men wonder if you're as passionate in real life as you are when you're writing your love scenes."

Okay, let's see. She is being stalked by someone who thinks that what she writes is real. Here is a random stranger who gives her a name that is just like the name of her romance heroes who is now telling her that clearly she is what she writes. Ding-ding-ding, this is a sure sign that Rachel should start running as fast as she can in the opposite direction, right?

She sighs over how hot he is.

Author Aurora Black seems to be aware of how the reader will perceive Luc since for a moment she sets Luc up to be a possible suspect. However, Rachel refuses to believe that Luc is in any way a possible suspect because when he comes to save her, the expression on his face apparently proves to her that he is the real deal. The idea that he may be putting on an act never crosses her mind. Instead, she wants some "Oh dear, I nearly got killed!" sex from him. Is this where I slap my forehead and root for the stalker to remove one stupid moron from this world?

The identity of the villain is pretty cool and unexpected but by that point Rachel has been such a criminally stupid character that I'm all for her to meet a terrible end.

I Heart You also gives such a conflicting message about romance authors embodying what they write, which is a pretty silly thing designed only to boost the ego of the authors in question, only to have Rachel being the poster girl for that message. The message I end up getting from this story is that romance authors like Rachel are clearly delusional and can't figure out the difference between real life and their fiction. I don't think this is what Ms Black intends to do with her story, so chalk this one up as a case of a story ruined by the heroine being a complete and utter imbecile in the face of danger.

Rating: 52


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