Island For Two
by Beverly Jenkins and Elaine Overton, contemporary (2012)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86261-0


Beverly Jenkins and Elaine Overton serve up Island For Two, their third collaboration for Kimani. This time around, the two stories here share the theme of prim and proper workaholic heroines who let loose and find love when they take a trip to enjoy the scenery in an island getaway.

Beverly Jenkins starts off the show with the longer story of the two, Hawaii Magic. To call Anita Hunt is a workaholic would be an understatement. Girlfriend here is so intent on becoming partner in her law firm that she not only forgets her dinner date with her fiancé Greg, who flew in just to see her on his way from DC to Tokyo, she arrives late and completely blanks him out during that dinner. She's the only one surprised when he dumps her for a more jovial woman. Never mind, Anita is already in Hawaii when that happens, having been forced by her boss to take an all-expenses-paid luxurious vacation, and pilot Steve Blair is just the antidote she needs after a hard day at work.

This one has an amusing pseudo-adventure/road trip vibe as their relationship is set in motion after the plane they are on takes a nosedive during bad weather. Anita is actually a likable heroine, although her abrupt transformation from chronic workaholic to someone who just wants to wooh-wooh all day can be a bit hard to believe. Steve is a fun hero too, and this short story is a pleasant romp with a enjoyable well-paced romance.

I'm just not sure about Greg being portrayed as the bad guy here, since it often takes two to cause a relationship to break down, and in this one, I feel that Anita should take some blame too, for the way she completely blanks out Greg. Not to mention, their relationship is obviously doomed from the start when their mothers are the ones most enthusiastic about the match. Okay, so he dumped her by text, which is not very well done, but I don't think it's fair that Greg is the one who shoulders all the blame when Anita isn't exactly into the relationship herself. At least Greg has the nerve to cut things off instead of continuing to let Anita treat him like an afterthought to her career.

Anyway, that's just a minor thing. I have a pleasant time reading this one.

Elaine Overton's Fiji Fantasy is already a very short story, but I think it would have been a better story if it had been even shorter. After winning ten grand in a lottery two months earlier, Connie Vaughn is now ready to shed off her efficient PA persona and embrace the wildest passions that have been pent up since her painful divorce. She will travel to Fiji and become the Contessa, the sensual version of Connie who will enjoy the scenery and maybe find a hot guy (or two) to indulge in some holiday fun. Michael Hillard is the rich (of course) playboy who ends up being her holiday fling. But yikes, when Connie returns back to her old life, she bumps into Michael again. Oh no, what will she do now?

This story is pretty fun during the Fiji moments, but when these two end up back in Connecticut, things become silly. Michael is hot, gorgeous, and infatuated with her. Okay, he's a player, but we all know that playboy romance heroes automatically become monogamous and devoted hubbies once they taste that honey, so that's actually a virtue. What's not to want? Following Connie as she pulls a Clark Kent and starts disguising herself in the presence of Michael becomes a surreal experience. It's like taking a turn only to end up being in the Twilight Zone or something. I think poor Connie needs to talk to a shrink. Or maybe this story needs a better plot.

This one ends up being merely a pleasant and inoffensive read, thanks to the silly plot.

The two stories here aren't the most memorable, but they have enough romantic chemistry to provide some decent entertainment. I guess this makes Island For Two the epitome of a beach read. It will do to pass the time, but it can just be easily put aside if there are better things to do in all that sun and sand.

Rating: 78


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