All Out of Love
It seems like I had more than my fare share of “light summer reads” to review this month, All Out of Love by Lori Wilde being one of them. While it’s a delicious ugly duckling story that I great enjoyed reading, it wasn’t particularly life-altering.
The small town of Cupid, Texas is famous for one thing – its name. Love letters, written to Cupid and answered by a panel of town residents, are a major tourist draw. So it’s ironic that the heroine of the story is victimized as a young girl when a letter she wrote to Cupid was published in the high school newspaper. At age fourteen, shy, overweight Lace Bettingfield wrote passionately about her unrequited love for her older brother’s best friend, Pierce Hollister, football star and high school golden boy. Lace was left to bear the slings and arrows of her classmate’s scorn and cruelty, while Pierce graduated high school and went merrily on his way to pro football stardom.
The story begins when Pierce, while recovering from a bad injury that could end his career, returns to Cupid to recuperate and help take care of his ailing father. Lace had already returned to town after college, and is now running the city’s botanical gardens. As it often happens, the once awkward, unattractive Lace has grown into a beautiful woman. Their first meeting is extremely uncomfortable, with Pierce not recognizing Lace at first and Lace being hostile and dismissive. But Pierce is used to getting his way with women, had always liked Lace, and refuses to take no for an answer when he tries to get to know her better.
Both characters have a lot to concern them. Lace is a member of the committee that answers the Cupid letters, and she finds dealing with one writer in particular troubling. She also has in her care a foundling, possibly a runaway. Her most immediate problem is the likely closure of the botanical gardens due to the embezzlement of a huge amount of the city’s funds. Just to make matters worse, Lace is thrown into Pierce’s company due to the fund raising efforts to replace the missing money. Pierce is desperately trying to regain full use of the leg that was broken so that his football career doesn’t have to end. He doesn’t know what he’ll do with himself if his leg can’t be rehabilitated because football is who he is. Due to his father’s insistence that he not work the family ranch in order to be an athlete, Pierce feels useless and out of place at home. Pierce’s brother greatly resents his return, feeling that Pierce will once again somehow be the hero, while his brother stayed behind and worked his fingers to the bone to take care of the ranch and their parents.
Lace felt very real to me. When she left Cupid for college, she lost weight and went wild, having indiscriminate sex and partying. Now that she’s an adult she realizes what her promiscuity was hiding, and has worked hard to be comfortable in her own skin. I could respect that, but I don’t know that I agreed with her refusal to get involved with a gorgeous, wealthy, Dallas Cowboys quarterback because of a childhood trauma. Pierce could easily have been portrayed as a one-dimensional character, but he works very hard on his relationships with his family and to find occupation that allows him to become more than his label. I found the emotional growth that both characters achieved very satisfying.
Technically this book is very good, with excellent pacing and dialog, and love scenes that were nice and warm. The denouement was a bit too expected, though, and there was a surprise near the end that I didn’t like at all. My main problem with All Out of Love was how forgettable I ultimately found it to be. I waited a few days between reading and reviewing and had to just about read the whole thing all over again just to refresh my memory. Because of this I’m recommending it for mindless entertainment value only.