by Zannie Adams, contemporary (2007)
Ellora's Cave, $6.49, ISBN 978-1-4199-0966-5

Eighteen-year old Cali Ross has not just recently graduated from high school, she also writes freelance for the local paper and has just started her internship with the Blacksburg Leader. She decides to break into the office of Landon Industries to get some "verification" for a supposed scoop she is working. She does a solo B&E only to find the Landon kid Kent in the office shagging some woman. She is caught spying on them. Kent offers her a job in the company.

Are you still with me?

That's just the prologue of Renaissance. Apparently Kent wanted to show his father a finger by hiring Cali so that she can work on her scoop. At any rate, the actual story takes place twenty years later when Cali decides to move back to Chicago to be with her father and to live out her personal Ally McBeal drama. She meets Kent again on a fundraising party. Despite going on and on about how she hasn't gotten laid in eight years because she's not cut out for casual sex, after going about how Kent isn't the person for her, she and Kent hit the sack before I can blink twice and she's going - and I quote - "Ah, ah, ah".

The story goes on and on involving paintings and petty overblown little issues but author Zannie Adams' characterization is all over the place. The above paragraph is just a small example of how inconsistent Cali can be in this story. This is also one of those stories where I find myself wondering how old the author actually is because her portrayal of a 38-year old woman is most unconvincing. It is as if the author has an exaggerated idea of what being "old" is just like how most teens tend to believe that 40 is "old" because they cannot imagine being 30, much less 40. Cali keeps saying that she's too old for this or that but come on, is 38 really that old? I can't imagine any adult woman who will write so unconvincingly about a 38-year old heroine who runs around acting like she's actually 78, what with her constant moaning and all, while trying to speak like a much younger woman.

Kent is portrayed as this pained tortured hero but the author lays his past on so thick that I find myself thinking that perhaps Ms Adams could be a little more, er, subtle in her use of pop psychology to shove Kent down my throat as this poor big baby who is hurting inside.

The writing can take a turn down some weird tangents as well. For example,

She rubbed his belly, which was flat and toned and nestled her body. Wished she had something to say, something that could start to fix things.

Let's overlook the iffy punctuation. I understand that the publisher is currently waging some kind of war of attrition on punctuation (Oxford commas must die!) so maybe some collateral damage in terms of missing commas and full stops is to be expected. At any rate, it's nice that Cali can be such a sensitive soul where Kent is concerned, but that part about Kent's "flat and toned" belly - what is that all about again? That paragraph is on page 140, about halfway through the story, so it's not as if I'm unaware by this point that Kent is this gorgeous hunk with perfect body. The author can bring up the hero's physical traits at the oddest moments.

There is an unfortunate amateurish feel to Renaissance in terms of the storyline and especially characterization. The characters feel one-dimensional and the story with all its conflicts often feel too contrived and unrealistic. This is one book that should have been kept in the drawer as the author continues to work on her craft because there are many fundamental problems with character continuity and over-the-top aspects of the plot, not to mention some sex scenes that are inserted in a laughably obvious gratuitous manner. Ms Adams may want to inform her editor or critique partners to cooperate with her in order to avoid putting out work of such amateurish quality in the future.

Rating: 47

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