Once Smitten, Twice Shy

Lori Wilde
2008, Contemporary Romance
Warner Forever, $6.99, 320 pages, Amazon ASIN 0446618462
Part of a series

Grade: B
Sensuality: Hot

I enjoy stories about couples who have a second chance at love. Although I initially had some doubts about the main characters in Lorie Wilde's Once Smitten, Twice Shy, I quickly grew to like them, and to root for them to have their happily ever after. This is the second in Wilde's Wedding Bell series. I haven't read the first book There Goes the Bride - but found this book an enjoyable, stand-alone read.

Shane Tremont and Tish Gallagher had a brief, tempestuous marriage. Though they haven't seen each other since their divorce two years earlier, neither has managed to get past their love for the other. Shane, a secret service agent, is now responsible for guarding the president's daughter, while Tish struggles to make a success of her career as a wedding videographer to the wealthy residents of Houston.

While guarding 22-year old Elysee Benedict at a routine ceremony, Shane's hand is seriously damaged in a fluke accident. Elysee stays by Shane's side through his hospitalization, and takes him back to the family's Texas ranch (yes, another Texas president) for recovery and rehabilitation. It soon becomes obvious to Shane that Elysee is in love with him, and in a weak moment, he proposes. Shane instantly regrets the proposal, but doesn't want to go back on his commitment to Elysee. He also decides that a marriage to calm, sweet, Elysee may be exactly what he needs. While he's not madly in love with her, she's safe and comfortable, unlike Tish.

Tish has her own problems. She has incurred major debts purchasing equipment for her business, while clients are still rare. She is also a shopaholic, and has maxed out her credit cards. Financially irresponsible, Tish let her bills pile up for several months. After a disastrous meeting in a restaurant with a potential client at which the waiter cuts two of her credit cards up - Tish walks out and discovers that her car has been repossessed. Does this stop Tish? No, she spends her remaining money at a Nordstrom's shoe sale. When Tish is at her lowest point, she is offered the rather surprising opportunity to serve as videographer to the President's daughter. All this is rather exciting, until she discovers groom's identity.

Now you might think that Tish sounds like the type of heroine that has given some chick lit a bad name. But there's a lot more to her than we initially see. Tish is not a simple, one-dimensional heroine. Nor is Elysee the beautiful, evil stereotypical "other woman." In fact, Elysee is rather plain. Although seeming to be almost too sweet and compliant, we learn that Elysee is much smarter, and tougher, than she initially seems to be.

The minute Tish and Shane meet again, they each realize just how much they still care about the other. The chemistry is palpable, but they struggle to fight it. In addition to having many unresolved issues with each other, neither wants to hurt Elysee.

The further I read in the book, the more I found myself genuinely caring about all three characters. None of them is perfect, but I began to realize that it was their very flaws that made them seem more real, more genuinely human. I have no perfect friends; like Shane and Tish, they have their good points and their bad points. However, while flawed, Shane and Tish are both, at heart, nice people.

I had a bit of a problem trying to figure out how to classify the genre of this book. The vast majority of the book reads simply as a contemporary romance. However, in the last few chapters, a romantic suspense plot emerges. Additionally, there is a small, almost miniscule paranormal element very early in the book, involving a magical wedding veil (a wedding veil that apparently also appeared in the first book of the series). Despite those two elements, I would still classify this as a contemporary romance.

It's been over a week since I finished the book, and I still think fondly of Shane and Tish. When this happens to me, I know I've had an enjoyable reading experience. If you're tired of too-perfect heroes and heroines, and enjoy second-chance-at love romances, Once Smitten, Twice Shy may be just the book for you.

-- LinnieGayl Kimmel

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