Desert Isle Keeper Review
Isn't It Romantic?
1998, Contemporary Romance
Lionhearted Publishing, $6.99, 347 pages, Amazon ASIN 1573430080
I first opened my copy of Isn't It Romantic? while riding the subway in Washington, DC . It was a unique experience. One minute I was a quiet passenger, the next I was whooping with laugher. I'm sure there are people in our nation's capital still wondering about that hysterical woman on the Red Line train.
As the story opens, Katherine Summerville, romance writer, and Trey Westmoreland, Dallas book critic, dislike one another intensely. But, in spite of years of animosity they have never met. After a series of mishaps too hilarious to spoil with recounting, they are assigned by Trey's boss and her editor to work on a newspaper feature on the nature of romance. The work involves one month of intense dating, during which Katherine is to write about how romantic the dates are, and Trey is to provide the unsentimental commentary. Naturally Trey sets out to arrange dates so appalling that the most die-hard romantic would be repelled. For her part, Katherine, knows a thing or two, theoretically, about seduction and the man has met his match. The joke becomes even better when you realize that to fulfill her part of the assignment, Katherine must find something redeeming about each of these dates.
Shall I tell you about these dates? I'd love to but I can't. Trey's surprises are half the fun. I'll give you a hint though, one involves midget mud-wrestling. The locations of these engagements are bad enough but when Katherine finally turns the tables by planning her own romantic evening, Trey strikes back by behaving like one of her fictional heroes. It's a classic case of being careful of what you wish for. Watching these two go after one another provides one of the most consistently entertaining books I have read in some time.
One of the best things about Isn't It Romantic?, from a romance fan's point of view, is the way the Ronda Thompson pokes gentle fun at the romance genre even as she defends it. When Katherine's precocious eleven year old daughter Shelly meets Trey she describes him to her mother in classic hero fashion along with a description of romance hero arousal. "Trey is definitely a rake. His blood is probably on fire with barely suppressed desire at this very moment". The dialogue gets even better but I won't spoil it for you.
Katherine and Trey are the archetypal romantic comedy couple, smart, witty and wildly attracted to each other. Each is determined to win the game as well as the love of the other. The competition of romantic versus hard headed pragmatist provides both the tension in the story and a "moment of truth" when each of the protagonists must decide if winning is worth the price of love.
Isn't It Romantic? is Ronda Thompson's first published work. What a debut! The book gets a minus for only one reason. At the start of the story there is a rather unbelievable piece about Katherine having threatened to sue Trey's paper over a review and his paper's having being intimidated by the threat. Not only are newspapers not intimidated by lawsuits of this kind, but they defend them routinely. Luckily the moment passes quickly and I went back to enjoying the book as much as I had previously.
I loved this book and smiled through it from beginning to end. The chemistry between the Katherine and Trey is established right away. You never doubt that when these two get together they will make each other's lives permanently interesting. Unlike many romantic comedy writers, Ronda Thompson understands when to slow down the action and let the characters talk about serious matters. Katherine and Trey are funny, but they are real people each with his and her own vulnerabilities. By the last line of the book I felt I knew them well. Truth be told, I miss them already.
-- Robin Uncapher
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