by Adrianne Byrd, contemporary (2004)
Arabesque, $6.99, ISBN 1-58314-429-3

Unforgettable is Adrianne Byrd's update on the Cinderella story, this one remains faithful to the tale right down to the midnight deadline and a shoe left behind. It's a nicely done fairy tale romance, although it's probably just me in that I'm not too fond of romance novels where enablers play such a big part. A part of me keeps wondering whether the main characters will be able to resolve problems in their relationship when these enabler secondary characters are not around.

Our Cinderella heroine is Diana Guy, a woman who doesn't have an evil stepmother but she does have a sick grandmother that requires Diana's attention and care to the point that Diana has very little time or energy for anything else in her life. She has an infatuation on her boss, the Prince Charming named Marcel "Take No Prisoners" Taylor. Marcel is rich, charming, and of course, rich. Women throw themselves at him all the time, so Marcel is not called the Casanova Brown for nothing. However, Marcel is becoming tired of his womanizing lifestyle and he wants a good woman to settle down with. Ah, but who should be this woman?

No, not a nurse at the STD clinic. Although come to think of it, won't a romance novel featuring a playboy hero and the STD clinic nurse heroine be a hoot? No, not his secretary Diana either, because Marcel doesn't play with his employees. A playboy has standards too, even if he is slowly being tempted to lower these standards.

This book isn't without some elements that won't hold up to scrutiny. For example, why would Diana keep holding a torch for Marcel even when she claims that she isn't enamored of the revolving door of his bedroom? Why would his employees care so much whether he marries Diana or not? But since this is a fairy-tale kind of romance story, I guess I shouldn't nitpick too much. The peak of this story is when Marcel throws a masquerade ball and Diana, with the aid of the Obligatory Gay Best Buddy and the Dotty Naughty Old Woman (the godmother Louisa Mae was a stripper once upon a time and she still puts on a mean disco boogie), will have to vamp her image to crash the party and spend a special night with the Casanova Brown. Predictably, things become more complicated than planned.

This story has many enabler characters all playing their tidily delegated roles in making Marcel and Diana fall in love. Probably too tidy, these delegated roles of theirs, to the point that there is a clockwork-like precision to the mechanics of the relationship taking place in this story. Even the predictable conflict that springs up to threaten our lovebirds' happiness feels like some routine, scheduled glitch that will be disposed of in due time.

Ms Byrd has an engaging voice and her writing is as always very readable. I have a pleasant time reading Unforgettable, but as I've mentioned, I'm not fond of stories where enablers run the show and this book doesn't succeed in convincing me to reevaluate my prejudices just this once. For what it's worth, this book is a fun, pleasant escapist fantasy, but it's just not one that I find particularly compelling or, pardon me, Unforgettable enough to place on my keeper shelf.

Rating: 83

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