Love Once Again
by Devon Vaughn Archer, contemporary (2006)
Kimani, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-679-2

Devon Vaughn Archer's second book for the Harlequin Kimani Arabesque or whatever the line is called nowadays, Love Once Again, repeats some themes presented in his debut romance effort Dark And Dashing (which is part of the Slow Motion omnibus 2-in-1 thingie published in late 2005). There is a heroine reeling from a painful divorce, issues of mistrust, and all. The hero is reeling nobly from the loss of a wife and a kid.

And, ugh, my reaction to this book is exactly like my reaction to Dark And Dashing: someone please do me a favor and sedate our heroine Janine Handerson before she ends up hurting someone really badly with her often inscrutable back-and-forth yes-no-yes-no-aaaah antics in this story. She's the divorcee. Richard Lowery is our hero who will spend his time inexplicably wooing Janine when she's quite a high-maintenance neurotic character, and he's also this prize-winning photographer whose latest book is due to be edited by our heroine, who's a senior editor.

The names and jobs of our main characters and the location are mere cosmetic changes to a story that Mr Archer has written twice in a row now: the story of the dangers of confusing "frustrating obduracy, irrational overgeneralizing of the opposite sex, and perpetual moaning-minnie self-pity parties for one" for "depths and layers in a character". Mr Archer really needs to take a step back and try depending less on the heroine's annoying mind games and distrusts of the opposite sex for his stories. Or, at the very least, let the heroine's insecurities and suspicions have a ring of convincing realism to them instead of being a one-dimensional and too-obvious plot device to keep the couple separated and in conflict. It's hard to root for one-dimensional characters stuck in one-track plot straight down the funny path off the cliff altogether, so to speak, and I hope Mr Archer will come up with characters that have more depths and plots that have more substance in the future.

Love Once Again is more akin to Once Again? Ugh, No Thanks.

Rating: 55

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