by Ellen Fisher, contemporary (2005)
New Concepts Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-58608-587-5
Unless I'm greatly mistaken, Ellen Fisher wrote In The Mood for a Brava contest. Since it's now being published by New Concepts Publishing, I suppose Brava won't be calling anytime soon. Perhaps it's because the hero doesn't fit in the upcoming Bad Boys Who Blow anthology, as he is a rather adorable romance author who probably won't fit into the alpha-Romeo mould? I don't know. It's a pity though because this book will find a wider audience if it's published by Brava. As a bonus, it has some meta injokes that will amuse some readers and authors of the genre.
Alyssa Stone has been heartbroken before when her first ever true love ends up choosing her mother over her. Ouchie. Maybe that's why she loves romance novels so much. However, when she realizes at a booksigning that the famous author Judy Patterson is actually Jude Patterson, she is quite taken aback. Given the received flack received by poor Kylie Adams, I suspect that Jude here must have testicles made of at least titanium for daring to show up for a booksigning without a wig and a padded bra, heh. Anyway, Jude is trying to hop onto the contemporary bandwagon with his latest effort In The Mood but he is hopeless at the love scenes. The use of "creamy orbs" is one such boo-boo, although I wonder how anyone can use this phrase in a historical romance in the first place. Alyssa offers to help Jude with the love scenes and like they say, a beautiful relationship is born. Thanks to Jude being mesmerized by Alyssa's breasts and not asking her how she imagines that a loser in love can help him in any way with the love scenes, naturally.
I know, one can easily make an argument about this story perpetuating the sad stereotypes about historical romances overladen with "creamy orbs" and how romance readers are losers in real-life relationships. Or how once more a romance story depicts the appeal of romance novels mainly for its sex scenes and their being an opiate to help those heartbroken readers lose themselves in some erotic romantic fantasy. But since this is a sexy story and Jude writes sexy historical romances (whether "creamy orbs" can any way be considered sexy is a different story altogether), these potentially inflammatory elements of the story make sense, contextually, and don't seem so bad after all.
For a short story, Alyssa and Jude generate decent chemistry and their romance is plausible. The best aspects of this story though is the tongue-in-cheek injokes as to how authors can sometimes do silly things to come up with hot love scenes. The injokes that relate well to the current romantic erotica explosion in the genre gives the otherwise rather typical "teach me how to be sexy" theme of this story a gender twist as well as some entertaining good-natured jabs at the genre. In The Mood may just be the fix for people looking for quick read with a little something extra as added value in their usual sexy contemporary romances.
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