Desert Isle Keeper Review

Power Play

Deirdre Martin
October 2008, Contemporary Romance
Berkley, $7.99, 2008 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425224519
Part of a series

Grade: A
Sensuality: Warm

When I open a book and smile at the first sentence, it’s a sign of good things to come. When I close the book – still smiling – I know I’ve found a keeper. Power Play is funny, sweet and utterly delightful.

Years ago, Monica Geary came to New York determined to be an actress. She had high hopes, lots of talent, and made the rounds of auditions while paying her share of waitressing dues. She got a part on a soap, and now she's a star, the leading lady of the same soap, and the most popular actress on daytime TV. She loves her work, she loves most of her co-stars and she’s very happy. However, there’s a shadow on the horizon. The casting director has brought in a new ingenue named Chesy (Monica thinks of her as Chesty) and it’s clear that Miss Double D has her sights on the leading lady role and she's not above having sex with the director to get it. Unless Monica works harder to keep her name before the public, her character’s role in the series may be reduced or she may even be killed off.

Meanwhile, over at Met Gar, the New York Blades have traded their beloved defenseman, Guy Le Temp, for Eric Mitchell. Eric is a superb puck handler and he’s also on People Magazine’s list of the 50 hottest bachelors. The rest of the Blades are not impressed with Eric’s cocky attitude, particularly when they lose the first two games right after he joins the team. Eric is confident in his hockey skills, but he needs some public relations help to win over the fans.

Publicist Teresa Dante comes up with a perfect solution for Monica and Eric. They need to go out together and pretend to be a couple. The leading lady of day time television dating the hot new member of the Blades – it’s a perfect story and they’ll be on the cover of every magazine in the country. Everyone loves a lover, right? Monica and Eric agree to the deal and begin by appearing hand in hand at a charity event. Eric makes an appearance on The Wild and the Free while Monica attends the Blades’ home games and stares adoringly at Eric on the Jumbotron. Their little act pays off for both of them, but as time and life go on, Monica and Eric’s act begins to seem more like reality and less like a publicity stunt.

There is no way I can convey how delightful this book is. It’s mostly character based with enough plot to keep things moving smoothly along. Eric and Monica are both very real characters and the way they act is how they are as people.

Despite Monica’s success in her career, she is plagued by doubts that acting in daytime television is not “real” acting. There’s a scene in which she and Eric go to a party given by a woman who attended acting school with Monica. This woman married a rich man and his money allows her to dabble in acting, appearing in low budget (but artistic) indie films, and experimental plays off-off-off-off-off-off Broadway. She’s the epitome of an intellectual snob and Monica is beginning to feel like a crass pretender under her nasty cracks until Eric comes to Monica’s defense. Eric (and the rest of the Blades) are all major fans of daytime television and he lets Ms. Snob know that at least people are watching Monica, she has the respect of her peers, and she makes her fans very happy.

Eric’s cockiness is real - but so is his talent. For years he’s been a serial dater, keeping company with pretty and vapid women whose names he never can remember. Frankly, Eric is not very nice at the beginning of the book, but he is on the cusp of a major change in his life. Eric’s brother Jason (see Chasing Stanley for his story) is very happy in his marriage and Eric’s parents have been a long married and devoted couple. Lately, Eric has been having nagging thoughts that being footloose and fancy free isn't all it's cracked up to be - just look how happy his brother is - and just maybe Monica is the one he’s been looking for.

Deidre Martin has worked in soaps and it shows. There are delightful snippets of dialogue from The Wild and the Free before some of the chapters: ”We must accept it; just as an Eskimo can’t feel the cold, so I will never again feel my legs.” Monica’s character runs the gamut from being cuckolded by her evil, long lost twin sister, to being zombified. I loved it – it reminded me of the time when Delia from Ryan’s Hope was abducted by a gorilla. Monica’s co-stars and Eric’s team mates are fantastic characters, especially Gloria, who plays the matron role on the soap and likes to reminisce about her hot love affair with Orson Welles (among many others) back when she was in film (shades of Ruth Warrick?).

Power Play ranks high on my list right now for the best romance of 2008. It’s a sheer delight from the first page till the last and I loved it, just loved it. I know I will read it again – probably several times. Contemporary romance doesn’t get much better than this.

-- Ellen Micheletti

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