Wish You Were Here

Lani Diane Rich
November 2008, Contemporary Romance
Forever, $6.99, 304 pages, Amazon ASIN 044661825X

Grade: C-
Sensuality: Warm

I expected to like Lani Diane Rich's new one since The Fortune Quilt received my vote for best chick lit of 2007. Unfortunately, Wish You Were Here did not live up to my expectations, and instead, left me confused regarding her intentions.

Nate Brody's life isn't going the way he'd like. Instead of working as a chef in his restaurant in Cincinnati, he and his young daughter Piper are stuck in a ramshackle campground in Deer Creek, Idaho that he inherited from his father. While Nate would like nothing better than to sell the campground and get back to Cincinnati, he's trying to comply with his father's dying wish and locate something hidden there. Unfortunately, his father failed to tell him just what this hidden item is.

Freya Daly makes things even more complicated for Nate. She works for her father's development company and is sent to Deer Creek to acquire Nate's campground. Freya can't figure out why her father wants the land and is willing to pay millions of dollars to get it since their company normally deals with upscale properties. But, she believes buying the campground is the final hoop she'll have to jump through to prove herself worthy of taking over the company once her father retires.

There's a quick sexual attraction between Nate and Freya. While I completely believe that Freya falls in love with Piper, I just didn't see enough interaction between Freya and Nate to believe that they were deeply in love with each other. In fact, it seemed as if there were far more interactions between Freya and Piper than between Freya and Nate.

I like less-than-perfect heroines, but Freya is a complete mess. Once you strip away her flaws, there just isn't enough left. She has a "condition" that causes her to cry uncontrollably at the most inopportune times. (Can we say anxiety? Panic attacks? Depression?). In addition to that charming quality, she's recently given up smoking but she still craves cigarettes and mooches them at least once from Nate's ex-wife. Then, there's her obsession with trying to please her father, something that's clearly never going to happen.

My favorite character, hands down, is Nate's daughter Piper, but I really don't read romances for the children. Nate had the potential to be a good hero, but he wasn't featured enough to carry it off.

I couldn't figure out what the author wanted the book to be. At first it seemed to be a light, romantic comedy. Then, almost out of the blue, a really nasty villain appeared and began making threats against Piper and Freya. This just didn't seem to fit. From that point on, too much of the book focused on the villain and his accomplices, and not enough on the romance between Freya and Nate.

This wasn't an awful read, but it had the potential to be so much more, that I ended up being frustrated and disappointed.

-- LinnieGayl Kimmel

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