by Rita Herron, contemporary (2003)
LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52544-5
Sleepless In Savannah is a bizarre book in that it is the secondary romance that prevents this book from being used as a frisbee. There is such a big gap in quality and readability between the two romances that it is as if two different authors have collaborated on this book. Still, it isn't long before the main couple drag the fun secondary couple into their nonsense.
Sophie Lane, the host of a talk show Sophie Knows, decides to make herself the contestant of the imaginatively-titled The Dating Game show just so that she has maneuver Lance Summers into going out with her. Let's not ponder the legal repercussions of such blatant manipulation of a TV show. Let's just focus on the couple. In the related book Marry Me, Maddie, Lance did some stupid thing and accused Sophie of some unreasonable things. I would expect a woman to know enough to stay away from this man, but not Sophie. She is thirty, her eggs are spoiling away on the cartons on her shelf, and she needs a man now and she wants Lance. No one else will do. Lance, Lance, Lance! On Lance's part, he's hot for Sophie, but he is a committed bachelor, so no, he doesn't want Sophie. Yes, he wants Sophie! No, he doesn't! Yes! No! Yes! No!
Good grief. These two people are like refugees from a truly awful young adult novel. Sophie is ridiculous and her pathetic attempts to get Lance to notice her by making him jealous are cringe-inducing, but Lance is worse. That man jumps into wrong conclusions as if he's paid for each pigheaded decision he makes, and more often than not, he acts like an overheated but brainless jock. Sophie and Lance's so-called love story is often noisy and filled with childish bickering over petty issues.
A much better romance takes place between Sophie's fun-loving sister Lucy and Lance's more stable brother Reid. Ironically, these two are described as the irresponsible and flighty siblings of the "mature" couple in the previous paragraph. Lucy and Reid meet under plausible circumstances and their relationship is free from inane misunderstandings, petty and childish attention-seeking antics, and implausible plot mechanics. Even better, these two are funny. Lucy also doesn't have any of Sophie's ridiculous neuroses about sex and ticking biological clocks and her attitude towards sex is refreshingly human compared to Sophie's. It's perhaps inevitable that soon my attention is far more invested in this couple than the childish ghouls that are Sophie and Lance.
But, towards the end, Lance and Sophie just have to drag Lucy and Reid into the last of their many super-stupid conflicts. Everyone starts acting like silly kids in their first co-ed summer camp, especially the men, and what little of my good mood is absolutely ruined. Still, Lucy and Reid are very good for the short time that Ms Herron allows them to be a normal, likable couple in love, and it is because of them that Sleepless In Savannah isn't a complete Cringing In Terror affair. File this book as a example of a book ruined by an author's trying too hard to pander to some misguided notion of kids behaving badly as a high form of comedy.
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