Beyond Compare
by Candace Camp, historical (2004)
MIRA, $6.99, ISBN 0-7783-2030-8


Beyond Compare is a well-written, predictable Regency romance that won't change the world, rock the formula, or cause readers to stampede the bookstores for it. It's a book that will find favor with readers who enjoy those Avon historical comedies. Everyone else can do with or without this book, it doesn't matter, all they'll miss out on is a few hours of pleasant but forgettable entertainment.

Kyria Moreland, our heroine, is dubbed "The Goddess" by society because she is beautiful yet aloof, blah blah blah. She is wealthy but she doesn't want to marry because she's holding out for love, yadda yadda yadda. She loves to spend time running the household and scorns frivolous activities like gossips and parties, whatever whateva whaddavah. Our hero Rafe MacIntyre is a self-made American guy haunted by a Torment that prevents him from forming a long-standing relationship with women and someone please pass me the salt, I think the salmon is a little on the flat-tasting side today.

They meet when Kyria falls from a tree while organizing her sister's wedding to Rafe's best friend (that romance is found in the previous book Mesmerized). But they will never do anything despite their attraction because he doesn't want love, all she wants is love, and drats, don't they have anything good on TV nowadays? Everything is either a forensics drama, wit-free teenage soap drama starring a bland pretty boy who speaks so slowly and a talent-free bimbo who speaks in an irritating baby voice, or some wretchedly sleazy reality TV show. Ugh. Things heat up when Kyria is sent a black diamond and the courier guy is murdered subsequently. Ugh, Fed-Ex isn't a safe low-end job option like it used to be. Rafe and Kyria investigate this matter, fall in love in oh-so-predictable ways, and I really, really need to scrub the toilet floor but I just can't work up the mood to do so.

On the bright side, Kyria is smarter than the usual heroines in this kind of stories. Think of Amanda Quick's heroines where they can be reckless and maybe just plain idiotic a time or two, but generally they work well with the hero, and Kyria will fit in well with those heroines. As for Rafe, he's just like what I would expect a hero in these kind of romances to be. They have a decent relationship between them with convincing sexual tension. The mystery unfolds like expected straight down to the villain-tell-all session.

The problem with this book, as far as I'm concerned, is that it is so generic that any virtue it possesses doesn't stand out. Amanda Quick has, after all, written at least ten books that are as good as if not better than Beyond Compare. While this book in itself is a pleasant and enjoyable story, it doesn't have much distinguishing, uniquely-Candace-Camp traits to make it a must-read, must-have book. Sure, I can easily say one could give this book a try if one likes light-hearted Regency romps with a touch of half-baked suspense, but if you ask me why you should read this book and not any one of Amanda Quick's backlist, I would be hard-pressed to give a good answer.

Rating: 79


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