Hot Number
by Sheridon Smythe, contemporary (2003)
LoveSpell, $6.99, ISBN 0-505-52523-2


Loud, discordant, and entirely dependent on the actions of ridiculous matchmakers to keep the couple together, Sheridon Smythe's Hot Number is a failure as a realistic romance. Sheridon Smythe used to be a pseudonym for Sherrie Eddington and Donna Smith, but it seems that Sherrie Eddington is the only one behind the pseudonym for this book and presumably future books as well. Not that it matters when it comes to this book.

Ashley and Michael Kavanagh are divorced, although that woman still retains the husband's family name despite being divorced for two years. It's quite sad when I think of it. It's even sadder when she wins half the million dollar jackpot in the lottery and goes on a cruise, only to realize that the other half is won by Michael and he's on the same cruise too (thanks to the meddlings of Kim, Michael's sister). From first on, they lose control and have sex. They are witnessed by the now dreaded Dotty and Meddlesome Old Couple plot devices who proceed to tell everyone else on the cruise. If you are laughing, this book is up your alley - and I mean that in a good, non-sexual way, just to make it clear.

Frankly, I find everyone in this book either an over-the-top caricature or just plain dislikeable. Ashley and Michael are immature children when it comes to their behavior. They keep shrieking at each other while privately moaning that they still love each other. It's even more annoying when Michael keeps throwing himself at another woman on the cruise - a different woman from the one he wants to marry back home - while sleeping with Ashley. Considering how they divorced because of Michael's (apparent) infidelity, it becomes even worse when Ashley keeps hanging after him. Talk about being a sucker for punishment.

This book is filled with matchmakers, worst of all being Kim, a woman that takes way too much interest in her brother's dissolved marriage to be considered mentally stable. These people keep telling the couple that they are perfect! great! for each other, but they are the only ones that think this way. Michael and Ashley lust after each other, that's all I can see, and it's an unpleasant form of lust that sees them apparently having no discipline and just tearing at each other only to rip at each other verbally once the lust is cooled down. This "intense attraction", as the author puts it, is as far as it goes when it comes to relationship development.

With no realistic heart-to-heart talk to make me see why this marriage will work the second time around, Hot Number is just a loud and over-the-top unfunny "wacky" story filled with unlikeable cartoonish characters. Working my nerves through a cheese grater is a more palatable experience compared to reading this book. We need more than lust between two idiotic people to call it romance, Ms Smythe, and I don't mean putting in a passel of sociopathically intrusive cheerleading matchmakers.

One more thing: cartoon covers are one thing, but just what is it with the big and sparkly eyes? Big and sparkly eyes are okay when it comes to Japanese cartoons, but on a romance novel, the whole Sailormoon eyes effect becomes quite ridiculous. Not to mention creepy to look at. Cut it out, please.

Rating: 42


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