Life According to Lucy
Life According to Lucy is a fun little read that had me laughing several times. It’s the type of read I often hope for when I pick up a series romance. The only problem is that it isn’t enough of a good thing; the pacing is off, and the book becomes very rushed at the end as the author crams what should have been a bigger book into a very small page count.
Lucy is having one of those days. She’s between jobs, and her love of clothes shopping is drastically impairing her ability to pay her rent. To top it all off, a sexy shirtless guy is gawking at her as her landlord deposits all of her belongings on the curb. She grudgingly accepts his help loading everything into her car and her dad’s truck, and she goes home to live with her widowed dad for a little while. Lucy’s mom died the year before after a long illness, and although she hates giving up her independence, she thinks living with her dad will be a good thing. One of her first acts is to try to rescue her mothers prized rose garden, which suffers from complete neglect. Lucy’s mom left behind a gardening journal containing advice on gardening and life. Prominently posted inside are the words: “When all else fails, calls Mr. Polhemus.” Lucy knows Mr. Polhemus; he’s that cute old guy in coveralls who helped her mom with her garden. So she gives him an S.O.S. call for the roses – and is totally surprised to see his son Greg who is (you guessed it) the cute shirtless guy who witnessed her earlier humiliation.
Greg and Lucy are immediately attracted to each other, but Greg is so not Lucy’s type. She likes wild guys with tattoos, motorcycles, and dangerous or artistic jobs. Greg is normal, and no one’s idea of a risk taker. Lucy eventually accepts a job as the office manager for his gardening and landscaping business, but she isn’t sure if a relationship with Mr. Cautious can actually go anywhere.
That’s about it for the plot, which understandably is a fairly simple and straightforward one. Despite that, the story really shines in the first three quarters of the book. Lucy is a little prickly, and perhaps too reluctant where Greg is concerned (I admit it: I have trouble feeling sorry for women who don’t appreciate nice guys) but she’s also funny. I could relate to her love of shopping and her reminiscences of her mother, which are alternately poignant and wry. One minute she is looking at her mother’s clothes and noticing that they still smell like White Shoulders, and the next she is having a nightmare that she has actually turned into her mother and is wearing her apron. If you’ve ever experienced the mixed emotions of wanting to live up to your mother’s standards while worrying that you’re actually turning into her, you’ll probably relate. There’s also a truly hilarious scene where Lucy is dressed as a giant penguin. That alone is probably worth the price of admission.
There really is nothing not to like about Greg, who’s the quintessential Mr. Nice Guy. This doesn’t mean he is boring; he has plenty of ambition and personality. If Lucy had held out any longer than she did, I probably would have wanted to hit her with something heavy. Greg also figures in the humor of the book. At one point Lucy hypothesizes that Greg hasn’t changed any of the furniture in his family home since his parent’s deaths, and he realizes that he isn’t quite “with it,” that he’s stagnated. He asks Lucy for help with decorating tips, and that night he goes home and takes all the childhood relics (including his pennants and baseball trophies) off his bedroom walls. When Lucy comes over for the first time, she is relieved to find that his bedroom isn’t as bad as she feared; although it’s a little plain, at least it doesn’t have pennants and trophies all over the walls. This type of humor really rings true.
This book would likely have received a higher rating if it weren’t for two problems. The first is that when Lucy first meets Greg, he pops up everywhere. She actually sees him by chance twice between the landlord incident and the time she calls for the roses. I could buy this is a small town, but these people live in Houston. No one just runs into someone else that often. The other problem is a little more serious. The pacing of the book flows very well initially, but toward the end everything is rushed. This is a 224 page book, but it’s probably a 324 page story. Obviously, there were space limitations, and they clearly affected the quality of the book. Whereas the characters’ actions toward the beginning of the book are natural and believable, towards the end they really feel forced.
That said, I found the book very funny, and I consider the time spent reading it worthwhile. I would probably recommend it in spite of its flaws to series fans looking for a quick laugh. Even though it’s too short, it’s a cut above the average series fare.