I'll Be There For You
by Ellen Fisher, contemporary (2006)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-59998-038-X


I'll Be There For You is like a bizarre version of a high school reunion of the characters from a John Hughes movie. The formerly not-that-pretty in pink heroine, Jeri Winston, is now a drop-dead gorgeous woman, of course, but the nerd Alexander Frost is now a DJ. The jock Connor Addison is now still gorgeous but he's now very rich thanks to the well-timed deaths of his parents and a pediatrician. Imagine that! It's like learning that the jock in The Breakfast Club has become the President of the United States... hey, wait a minute. Maybe it's not that much of an "Imagine that!" after all, now that I think of it.

Connor is loaded with money, gorgeous, and works with children. No, he heals kiddies. How can a mere mortal man like Xander compete for the affections of his best friend Jeri, right? In addition, he is further handicapped in his pursuit of Jeri by the fact that Jeri had a huge crush on Connor in high school. Jeri manages to persuade Xander to take in Connor, who's just moved back in town, as a roommate so that she can get closer to Connor.

I'll Be There For You is a pleasant story although I suspect there will be readers who will find Jeri problematic because she takes Xander for granted many times early on this story. Then again, if Jeri behaves in a supersweet and sainted manner that will make her perfect to star as the heroine in a Regency historical romance, there won't be any story to tell here. Still, at the end of the day Jeri does come off as a little clueless about things, although she can put two and two together and draw the correct conclusion from a situation. Ms Fisher nonetheless manages to create a credible psychological reason to explain Jeri's cluelessness and self-esteem issues. Xander is a bit of a doormat at first but at least he's doing it for love, I suppose. I like that Ms Fisher allows Connor to be a Blane McDonnagh type who doesn't get the girl but retains his dignity nonetheless.

The only problem I have with this story is that its length is already pretty short - marketed as a novella, this book has 130 pages including cover and all - and I'd really like to see the relationship between Jeri, Xander, and Connor develop further via conversations. Two chapters of sex scenes take away so much space from much-needed plot and character development, if you ask me, and the whole "Oh no, are we still friends?" morning-after issues take come to the forefront subsequently serves as a distraction to me. I want to know how Jeri understand that Xander and not Connor is the one. As it is, the whole "Wham! My buddy tells me he's the one and now I think he's hot so IT's PAR-DEEEEEE TIME!" epiphany of Jeri is too simplistic for me.

It's a common problem I have with my ebooks, really. Just when the going gets good, the author feels that she has to put in sex scenes - after all, sex sells - which takes up space from character and plot development when the length of the story is already short enough. That and the subsequent post-sex relationship issues all take up space that could have been used to develop the characters and the storyline better. If this story has been longer, it would've been so much better. In its current form, it's like an abbreviated adaptation of a lost John Hughes movie. It's nice but it's more like a six-candles instead sixteen-candles kind of awesomeness.

Rating: 81


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