True Devotion
by Kim Louise, contemporary (2002)
Arabesque, $6.99, ISBN 1-58314-284-3


Related to Destiny's Song (the heroines of the two books are friends and the heroine here is the sister of the hero in Song).

An over-the-top start and several frustrating problems in characterization mar an otherwise pleasant read by this author. Kim Louise's True Devotion is one book that could have been better if the author has kept clutter to a minimum and focus on the love story.

Marti Allgood is an artist, although she will deny it. When her latest painting is sold to Kenyon Williams and Kenyon has commissioned a portrait for $100,000. I don't know about you, if someone is paying me $100,000 to draw his ugly face, you bet I will be right over his place with my paintbrushes and all in a jiffy. But not Marti. She's not an artist! She can't paint or draw at the drop of the hat, so this... this... this is impossible! She must go meet Kenyon, get back her painting, and return the check now!

Kenyon assumes that this crazy woman is a nutcase and has her thrown out of his big luxurious house. Oh no, she won't - Marti manages to grab her painting from his wall. This is when he calls the cops and she gets thrown into a cell.

Are you laughing yet, people? Only, I don't think we're supposed to laugh. Oh dear.

But of course he's hot! I'm not sure how a woman can notice how hot the guy who has thrown her into jail is, unless we're talking about a man who threw me into a jail cell, step right in, lock the cell behind us, take out the handcuffs and leather strips, and we'll play all day long in jail - ahem, then again, we're talking about a heroine who turns down $100,000 to draw a portrait. It is very likely that we are dealing with a heroine who may not be, shall we say, very intelligent?

Thankfully, after this ridiculous start, things settle down somewhat. Our heroine sits down to sketch our hero - alas, no scenes of our naked hero wearing the Heart Of The Ocean necklace and pouting as our heroine draws, in case you're hoping for one - and they slowly fall in love.

In the meantime, there's Jacqueline, who completes the trio of girlfriends that is also made up of Marti and Destiny. Jacq has ditched her man because she is tired of him behaving as if he is the man who must be obeyed. Thing is, Mr He Who Must Be Obeyed just have to chase after Jacq, and our meddling girlfriends just have poke their nose in.

Jacq and Davis' story could have been more interesting than Marti and Kenyon's story since the latter is basically a series of courtship and woo episodes. But the author unfortunately chooses to resolve this subplot with a Man Behaving Alpha and Woman Is Charmed resolution. As Destiny says to Jacq, apparently if you love a man, you must never let the man get away. I personally find this a rather pathetic philosophy - I mean, come on, even if you love a man, you still have the right to walk out if he turns out to be an ass, right?

Marti and Kenyon's love story generate very little excitement as it's basically Ms Passive Whiny Moomoo and Mr Whiny Rich Bloke reenacting what seems like BET's edition of Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous. There is a conflict towards the end that cause a brief estrangement before those two, but the reason for the conflict is a rather bewildering one. Depending on how much you believe that one is responsible for the sins of your forefathers, you will accept Kenyon's whiny actions better the more you do. In the meantime, Marti is appropriately passive and self-depreciative of her abilities as romance heroines today are supposed to behave, judging from the proliferation of those creatures in today's romance novels.

There is very little cohesion between the scenes in this book. Jacq and Destiny are Marti's friends but their appearances in this book don't really contribute anything but filler moments to the story. Factor in the tendencies of the heroines to bend and make away to indulge their men's silly antics, and True Devotion ends up a readable story that uses too much simplistic resolutions for its dramatic conflicts for its own good. It's not bad, really, but at the same time, it could use a little more complexity in the drama. After all, the men aren't always right.

Rating: 74


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