Desert Isle Keeper
I’m giving a really good grade to a book about a scientist who decides to make the perfect man out of plastic. I know, I can hardly believe it myself.
Josie Farrington is a biochemist for a toy company that makes lifelike dolls. She is the inventor of a substance that looks, feels, and responds to touch just like human skin. Thanks to her breakthrough, her company’s toys are the hottest items on the market, but Josie is unfulfilled. She’s wants to be married and on her way to being a mom by the time she turns thirty-five, and her birthday’s coming up in a month.
After attending a “Finding Your Life Partner” seminar, she devises Ten Compatibility Commandments that a potential mate should have, but after several dud dates, she has a brainstorm. What the world needs is a perfect artificial man – one who’s gorgeous, attentive, and gives great foot rubs. It would sell like hotcakes to harried working women everywhere. Josie can design it, but she needs help with the actual construction.
She turns to Marvin Tannenbaum, who works in research and development for the toy company. Marvin is a total geek, an obsessed workaholic who’s more interested in his experiments with robotics than in actual human beings. But gradually Josie realizes that Marvin aces a staggering nine out of ten Compatibility Commandments. He must be hers. The problem is this: Marvin Tannenbaum is actually Matt Taylor, a brilliant maverick who is pretending to be a nerd as a cover for his own personal agenda.
I’m leaving out about 90 percent of the details, here, but suffice to say that this book is funny. A lot of books try to be funny, but this is one of the few that really had me giggling. The setup, the dialogue, the details – even the secondary characters are funny. As an added bonus, the book is also unpredictable. I’m a sucker for any book that doesn’t follow the beaten path. This one goes completely off-road.
The chemistry between Josie and Matt is half sparkling repartee, half sizzling attraction. But the author goes beyond that and actually works in some solid character development as well, something I don’t expect from a zany comedy. Josie is brainy but vulnerable, thinks she’s fat, and has a deep-seated need for a man to be her friend as well as lover. Matt is a sexy playboy who fell in lust with Josie as soon as he saw her. He’s ambitious, driven, hungry for recognition, but the mere sight of Josie makes him forget all that. The development of these characters both lends to the conflict between them, and makes me care about their happiness. By the end of this novel I was not only laughing, I was also solidly rooting for the hero and heroine.
Midnight Kisses is not perfect. Obviously, it is not for those who are sticklers for accuracy of any kind. Anyone who knows anything about biochemistry, artificial intelligence, robotics, or even the toy industry might be completely offended. And there are lots of little details that are just wrong. Early in the novel, a secretary says that her ex hasn’t called her in “seven months, six days, and four hours.” Less than one month later, she complains that he hasn’t called her in “four months, six days, and twelve hours.” Then there’s the insulting portrayal of the Chicago Sun-Times, which in this novel runs a photograph of Josie with the headline Hot! Hot! Hot! and a caption comparing her IQ to her bra size.
Still, these are fairly niggling problems when you consider how lovable the lead characters are. I was completely entertained by Matt’s shy geek impersonation and absorbed by his sexy infatuation with Josie. And, what a coup to find an equally lovable heroine! Josie’s attempts to convince “Marvin” that they’re perfect life-mates is both hysterical and endearing. This is not the novel for you if you’re looking for intense, complex, heart-tugging drama. It’s not French bittersweet chocolate, it’s cotton candy. But it is exactly the book for you if you’re stressed, depressed, coming down with a case of the flu, or just need something to make you smile.