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Monday, January 05, 2009

When You Were Mine

**** When You Were Mine by Adrianne Byrd. Contemporary romance.

This book was the result of one of my find-new-authors buying sprees. Unfortunately, it's the second in a series or trilogy, which accounts for perhaps half a star of my rating.

Joey Adams is an aspiring screenwriter who thinks Laurence, her cosmetic surgeon boyfriend, is about to propose because she's found a receipt from a jewelry store. Well, we all know what that means: he breaks up with her on Valentine's Day and shortly thereafter announces his engagement to Hollywood's hottest starlet.

Joey's not one to give up without a fight, though, so she decides to confront him. Denied access to the exclusive club, she breaks in through the men's room window, and in the process meets director Ryan Donovan, who finds her intriguing. And, more interestingly from his point of view: she's the first woman to get a sexual response from him in months.

They all end up in Milan where Ryan's directing Laurence's new fiancee in a movie, and after a few disasters, Ryan offers to help Joey win Laurence back by making him jealous by pretending that they're engaged. Well, we all know where that's going, too. News flash to the Amazon reviewer: French Kiss isn't the first place this plot showed up, either.

Despite the predictable plot, When You Were Mine is a lot of fun. Joey is from a big, meddling family (the source of the series), and her sisters' attempts to "help" her (especially in a wonderful scene of revenge) and the problems in their own lives and the life of their only brother account for quite a bit of the humor and emotional content of the story.

Joey herself is responsible for a lot of laughs, too, beginning with her first meeting with Ryan. Though there's a lot of humor, it's still believable, as is the emotion. When the charade becomes too real, her emotional reaction makes perfect sense. She doesn't have the usual knee-jerk negative reaction, but she doesn't react naively, either.

The same thing goes for Ryan: he's one of the most realistic romance heroes I've read. He's not perfect, by any means, and he's not the too-noble-to-be-true gentleman any seasoned romance reader will expect. Instead, he's refreshingly realistic: quick with the unapologetic come-ons and sincerely appreciative of Joey's physical charms, and not above pressing the attraction between them when she's had a little wine--all of which Joey objects to: more realism. Still, it's very clear that he's genuinely falling in love with her, which, in my opinion, is vastly more romantic than some preternaturally perfect Romance Hero™ declares undying love-at-first-sight.

I was a little thrown by the plethora of characters, not least because Joey and her sisters all have masculine names: Joseph, Michael, Peyton, and Francis. Their brother is apparently named "Flex." Making it even more confusing, they all have nicknames, and significant others. By the end of the book, I think I had it straight, but I suspect it would have helped a lot if I'd read the first book in the series, Measure of a Man, first. I've put it on my to-look-for list.

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