Test Me!
by Dee Tenorio, contemporary (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-699-X


The last few books by Dee Tenorio, where she presents a more dramatic side of her writing, are a disappointment where I am concerned and believe me, it really hurts me to admit that even to myself. I'm really hoping that Test Me!, which is a humorous and spicy contemporary romance, will remind me why I like this author's style in the first place.

Researcher Travis Carmichael lives next door to Vetta St Claire. They are also rivals when it comes to their work. I can understand how Travis is feeling when he is broke and going nowhere with his research on cancer while his wealthy neighbor/colleague is throwing a study on a grand scale... about the male libido. Travis doesn't understand why Vetta, with the financial resources she has at hand as well as her parents' social connections, keeps researching all this trivial matters. Having had been part of the endless frustration of wrangling for grant money when I was still in the research rat race, I have to say that Travis behaves in a far more civilized manner than me were I in his shoes. He's clearly a better person than me since he doesn't seem to really resent her, despite what the blurb says, as much as he is bemused by how unfair things can be when it comes to him and Vetta.

Maybe it's because she's hot and he has seen her naked. By accident, of course. We all know how easy men can be when it comes to a hot woman, don't we, gals? And we certainly don't need to waste time, money, and resources to come to that conclusion unlike silly Vetta here.

Like most female researchers in romance novels, Vetta is as socially inept as she is a Barbie doll in a lab coat. Will you be surprised if she is known as an ice queen of sorts? Or that her parents are more eccentric and self-absorbed than warm and they have rubbed off on her in many ways when it comes to her views about love and life? And that she is still a virgin because the men she dated are generally unacceptable in one way or the other? The last part I can reluctantly concede to be plausible though, having done that, got the ugly T-shirt, and all when it comes to socially fraternizing with men in the research and academia fields. Not all of those blokes are chauvinist types - I married one of those who aren't, after all - but I'd met enough of those who seem to adopt a viewpoint of women that come straight from the 1800s, shudder.

At any rate, because these two live and work together - literally side by side - it is inevitable that Travis ends up being Vetta's very willing test subject. Sparks and clothes fly, along with a few clipboards and theories about love.

Travis plays a big part in making this story most enjoyable for me. He's adorable as an easy-going researcher/jock hybrid type of hero who knows all the right buttons to push when it comes to a woman. Ms Tenorio has some sizzling red-hot fireworks taking place between Travis and Vetta that make their developing relationship so much fun to follow. Vetta does end up too much like a typical bird-brained Harlequin Blaze heroine at times. Vetta at times can be too much of an embarrassing caricature of the "bimbo in a lab coat" archetype prevalent in the romance genre, but I guess I should be happy that she doesn't do some of the really stupid things that a Harlequin Blaze heroine can do when left to her own devices. At the very least, I don't think Vetta will accidentally drown in a shallow bath tub one day like I am convinced eight out of ten Harlequin Blaze heroines will before they hit the age of 35.

To conclude, Test Me! is fun and it rather convinces me that this author is stronger in her craft when it comes to romantic comedies. Perhaps my familiarity with the research field prevents me from appreciating the heroine fully, but even with my issues with Vetta, I have no problems enjoying this story from start to finish, so make of that what you will.

Rating: 84


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