All the Right Angles

Stef Ann Holm
2007, Contemporary Romance
HQN, $6.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 037377186X

Grade: B-
Sensuality: Kisses

It finally happened! A romance novel with absolutely no sex. I've had nightmares about coming across such a book. Well, here it is...and while it's better than I thought, in the end I felt let down because the likable and well-written characters deserved more passion.

Francesca Moretti is second generation Italian, surrounded by a loving family. She is an architect, beautiful, sexy, and completely focused. Her parents own a construction company and just won the bid for a new project, and when misfortune comes upon the family, she is elected to oversee the project.

Kyle Jagger is the owner of a competing construction firm. He is described as quite handsome, with a bevy of women vying for his attention. He is upset about losing this project, but he finds a way to get involved; he will provide the financial backing. Francesca is unaware of this small detail, as are most of the other members of her family.

When they meet, the attraction between Francesca and Kyle is instantaneous. I liked these characters a good deal because of their multi-dimensionality - neither are walking stereotypes. The foreseen tension as a result of the behind-the-scenes relationship between Kyle and Francesca's father, and feelings of betrayal on behalf of those left in the dark, work very well indeed. Kyle does not let this problem get in his way of starting a relationship with Francesca, who succumbs with little fight, because that is what she wants too. And of course, the problem standing in their way resolves itself. There feelings for each other are believable.

With all that working in favor of this book, why the qualified recommendation? As much as I liked Francesca and Kyle, their romance left something to be desired. As appealing and sexy as they are, the reader experiences just a few kisses between them, scattered throughout the book. This lack of romance is perhaps the result of the significant roles played by members of Francesca's family. The book, in fact, opens with a scene involving her parents. Between her mom, dad, and three brothers, not enough page count is devoted to the lead characters. This may be a labeling issue; had I opened the book believing it was fiction and not romance, I might not have felt deprived, not only of more time spent on the leads, but the lack of intimacy between the two.

Stef Ann Holm writes about an intriguing Italian family in All the Right Angles. Unfortunately, too little time is devoted to the hero and heroine, too little interaction, and too little passion - not to mention any physical intimacy between them other than a few kisses - to qualify this as a true romance in my book.

-- Keisha Hudson

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