Desert Isle Keeper
Again was the first book I read by Kathleen Gilles Seidel. It was the winner of the RITA award for best Contemporary Single Title for 1995. I enjoyed it so much that I bought her entire backlist. Again combines a wonderfully humorous concept with a poignant love story. I laughed quite a bit at the author’s idea of a career for Jenny Cotton, the heroine. Jenny is chief writer for a soap opera and the soap is set in regency London. That is virtually the birthplace of the modern romance genre and Jenny is steeped in that past world. She is surrounded by Georgette Heyer’s books and regency costumes that viewers pant over. Her show is highly successful. The book begins as the show takes on a new actor, Alec Cameron, a famous soap leading man who had troubles on his last show. He is going to play the duke in her soap and he is the hero of this novel. If you have read a lot of romance novels which were set in the regency, you are going to howl at all of Seidel’s insider jokes. She has Jenny stage just about every plot contrivance you’ve read in a romance for her soap opera.
The real life romance is complicated by the fact that Jenny lives with her longtime male companion from her small town high school. He is the male lead of her soap. She is not particularly satisfied with the relationship but is loathe to leave him after the years she’s spent with him. He is her crutch, and the whole time she has been in New York, it has been with him. This live-in boyfriend is the chief obstacle that Alec and Jenny have to overcome. Their growing relationship is further complicated by a glorious vixen who comes onto the soap as a new character. She decides she wants the hero of the soap, Jenny’s live-in boyfriend, for real too.
There are wonderful secondary characters in this book too, mostly actors who appear in the soap opera. I actually discovered quite a bit about how a soap opera actor differs from a non-soap actor and the special demands within this subspecialty of acting. The whole status part of being an actor versus being a soap opera actor will remind the reader of the status of general fiction over the romance genre, another insider joke that Seidel pulls off. I was so engrossed in this 378 page book that I finished it in one day!
Seidel has a Ph.D. in English Literature from Johns Hopkins University. Her intelligence shows in her writing without ever becoming pedantic. In fact, this author is about as opposite from “stuffy” as a writer can be. Seidel goes a long time between writing books and, in finding her books, I had to rely on used book sources. You may have to do the same although, if ever there is an author who should be reissued in every single title, it is she.