by Reon Laudat, contemporary (2009, reissue)
Indigo, $6.99, ISBN 978-158571348-6
Reissuing early books in one's career can be similar to publishing the author's baby photos in the front page of a newspapers. The end result is not always flattering. In the case of Reon Laudat's early novel It's In His Kiss, now reissued in mass market paperback, it only reinforces how the author had gone a considerable distance since the publication of this book back in 2002.
Savannah Jacobs has me cringing when she is first introduced in this story. She owns and runs the Silver Spoon Café. Ms Laudat has Savannah being quite the cliché - Savannah's job is plagued by problems and she doesn't make things easier on herself by hiring workers she can't necessarily afford to pay just because she can't bear listening to their sad stories about their lives. When Savannah receives a scathing review about the food in her café in the Cincinnati Tribune, however, she goes into berserk girlfriend mode, storms food critic Jackson DeWitt's office, pours a bowl of fettucine on his desk, and rips his article to shreds before using the pieces as garnishing. When Jackson shows up in her café later, she will continue to behave like an irrational harpy with her priorities all mixed up. Instead of worrying over her dreams being destroyed by some review, she should have reorganized her finances, if you ask me. Still, it's a good thing that Jackson is a sucker for such dramatic antics because deep inside he's hot for Savannah. Can he win her over?
This book suffers from character inconsistency. When the story is in need of conflict, Savannah and Jackson can suddenly transform from sensible and likable characters into irrational loud creatures determined to jump to all kinds of unhappy conclusions about the other person's motives. The quiet scenes make up the greatest strength of this book because Ms Laudat's romantic scenes are very well written and believable. It is when these characters behave irrationally for the sake of conflict, exploding without warning, that I wince and shake my head.
I like the secondary story line involving Angelica Alexander, the fashion editor who has designs on Jackson. Instead of turning Angelica into some skanky ho, Ms Laudat actually allows Angelica to not only retain her dignity after being rejected by Jackson but also to move on with sass and style. It's too bad that I am never convinced that the guy she ends up with is the right one for her. That man initially came off like a creep and my opinion of him never really changes even by the last page of the book. Oh well, I'm sure Angelica will know how to get her groove back when she eventually kicks this creep out of her life.
It's In His Kiss is very rough around the edges. It's a pretty average read, but it does hint at plenty of promise that Ms Laudat eventually delivered with delightful consistency in the books that eventually followed this one.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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