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Friday, April 20, 2007

Another Chance at Heaven

**½ Another Chance at Heaven by Elda Minger. Contemporary romance.

This is a very early book from Elda Minger, and it shows.

Aspiring actress Genie Bouchet is hired/pressured by her wealthy, successful novelist sister Valerie to impersonate her during a week-long talk show interview.

Unfortunately for Genie, talk show host Pierce Stanton plans to use her appearance on his show to expose Valerie as the heartless homewrecker who had an affair with his sister's husband, destroying their marriage.

Maybe this is why conventional wisdom says not to write romances with celebrity-type characters. They're just not sympathetic. At least not in this book. Valerie is a spoiled, controlling witch panicked at the thought of being seen in public because she's pregnant. Pierce uses his celebrity to try to ruin Valerie's career. And all Genie does is sit around moaning about not being famous yet.

Both Genie and Pierce have sister issues. Genie complains about her sister, but at the same time, she takes her money. I'm not too sympathetic there. Pierce is so hung up on his sister's divorce that years later, he's still out to get "the other woman."

And to top that off, it's a Big Secret story. As happens in almost every Big Secret story, Genie has multiple chances to come clean about her identity, but she keeps putting it off. If you've read any books at all, it's not going to be a spoiler to say that she loses her chance to tell him herself. Maybe it's not fair to complain about a cliche in a 22-year-old book, but I suspect the cliche has been around longer than that.

The thing is, I wouldn't mind the cliche so much if I liked the characters. If I could sympathize with Genie getting in over her head with the lie, or with wanting to protect her sister, it would be fine. And I'd be okay with both Genie and Pierce needing to get over their hang-ups about their sisters if there wasn't the whole deception muddle thrown into the middle of it.

But like I said, it's a 22-year-old book, and Elda Minger has written much better books in the meantime, so I'm not too terribly disappointed in this one.


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