by Julie Elizabeth Leto, contemporary (2001)
Harlequin Temptation, $3.99, ISBN 0-373-25914-X
Pure Chance has potential, but the plot sucks out whatever not-sucky element it has. This is one of those "fake boyfriend" stories that by its premise alone has reduced all its main characters' IQ by around a zillion points.
Serena Deveraux may be the rare non-neurotic category romance with no weird sexual hang-ups (she actually has a social life), but she just can't tell her male best friend no when the guy starts batting eyelids at her. Serena doesn't want their friendship to end, however, so she decides that the best thing to do is to hire her another male old friend Brandon Chance as her bodyguard. Actually, she just wants him to play her beau so that the other Male Best Buddy will back off.
Brandon is a former uniformed hero with lots of super martial arts-like thingies at his disposal. He and Serena will make a good pair in another story. But in Pure Chance, the story continues downwards in an unstoppable spiral of incredulous plot twists. It is painful to follow how Ms Leto try to keep her characters within the confines of sanity even as the pretense plot goes more and more unbelievable.
Nothing fits. Serena is a strong-willed heroine, hence it is a hard buy that she can't convince her rather milquetoast male buddy (not Brandon, the other one) to back off. There's no reason to hire Brandon under fake - and rather ridiculous - pretenses either. There's no rhyme or reason to the whole story, apart from it being a rather clumsily-pieced together patchwork of Harlequin category romance contrivances.
And I wish the author doesn't do a Jayne Ann Krentz to me the way she did by keep emphasizing and reemphasizing the "unique" trait of the hero, ie Chance men never back away from challenges. Yeah, yeah, I hear you, Brandon - you can't back down from a bet and you don't like taking no as an answer. Enough already.
All in all, Pure Chance has two decent characters trapped in a plot with lots and lots of suckage. Any semblance to real life is pure chance, be rest assured.
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