by Reon Laudat, contemporary (2005)
St Martin's Press, $6.99, ISBN 0-312-93414-9
Reon Laudat's Wanna Get To Know Ya is a low key but very enjoyable contemporary romance. It makes a very nice change from the more melodramatic paranormal romances or secret agent contemporary romances out there. As a bonus, this story features a pretty unusual heroine - grease monkey CJ Davis works as a trucker and she is into fast cars and violent computer games.
CJ first encounters our hero Ethan Tanner when by chance they both discover a 1971 Plymouth Barracuda for sale. Both are into cars, you see, and for CJ, the Barracuda is what she has been looking for all this while. That muscle car will be her passport to the upcoming Woodward Dream Cruise. She manages to outbid Ethan for the car. They will meet again when she needs someone to repair the Barracuda to meet her tight deadline, and it turns out that the best auto-repair shop in this part of Detroit is owned by Ethan. There is no hard feeling on his part over losing the Barracuda to her, especially when he's more than happy to ask her out for a date and know her better.
The developing relationship between CJ and Ethan is pretty much the story here. There are no secret agents, dead bodies, exploding cars, or a hero who grows a snout and howls at the moon at midnight. It may not be the most exciting read if you are looking for a more action-packed story, but for me, I am looking for a break from all that dramatic stuff, so this book is just fine where I am concerned.
Ethan's issue here is that he lost his wife and kid about a year and a half ago. But while there is some residual "What if I was there?" guilt on his part, a bigger part of him is willing to move on and fall in love with CJ. CJ is the more commitment-shy character here. Always the first to ditch the guy when he shows signs of wanting more than an mere affair from her, CJ's insecurities stem from her having to undergo various treatments for Hodgkin's lymphoma and acute myeloid leukemia when she was younger. Now she is somewhat of a hypochondriac, always believing that she is destined to die young. As a result, she is very reluctant to form permanent attachments to anyone outside her family.
The romance between these two characters is a very pleasant one to follow. The two characters have great chemistry. Their mutual attraction is complemented by scenes of easy conversations and developing friendship, making this couple come off as best of friends as well as lovers. Even the drama arising from their issues is resolved in a low key yet realistic manner. There is no melodramatic epiphany, screaming, or fist waving at the heavens - the characters deal with their issues sensibly and even realistically. When they finally attain the happily ever after, I can very well believe in that happy ending.
There are some secondary characters here, all of them complementing the personalities of the main characters very nicely without becoming too intrusive. The focus of this story is the well-written romance, which is something I definitely approve.
Wanna Get To Know Ya is a plain old fashioned good romance story, without much frills and fancy gimmicks. It may be low key, but there is plenty of sparks in the romance to make this one a most enjoyable read nonetheless.
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