Dangerous Curves Ahead
I started Dangerous Curves Ahead when I was waiting in line at an RWA booksigning. It begins with a funny scene – the somewhat chubby heroine is caught red-handed buying a delicious black and white cookie, and when her ex’s skinny, mean aunt criticizes her, Ellis Garrett hilariously puts the old bat in her place. The great beginning had me interested, but unfortunately the rest of the book didn’t deliver.
Ellis Garrett comes back to Durant from New York City, leaving her job as an attorney so she can fulfill her dream: Opening a boutique for hard-to-fit women. Ellis is plus-sized herself, but also feels for the very tall, and anyone else who can’t just pull a dress off the rack at Nordstrom and call it good. She’s also fleeing a bad relationship with Jack, who made her feel bad about her body.
Mike Edwards witnesses Ellis’s confrontation with Jack’s aunt and wants to get to know her better. He’s also fleeing his past as an NYPD cop. He’s works for the police force in small-town Durant, where he went to college. Ellis recognizes Mike; she met him before and really liked him…until she walked in on him when he was nearly naked with her sister. Mike can’t remember Ellis, but knows he wanta her now.
The two run into each other again at a bar trivia night. Mike tempts Ellis with junk food she’s vowed not to eat, and makes his interest clear. And unfortunately, from here on out the book gets repetitive, less funny, and less interesting. There are a few things going on. Ellis has baggage from dating the horrible Jack, and isn’t sure she wants to marry or have a serious relationship. Mike has baggage because his dad left his family when he was a boy. This has convinced Mike that marriage is probably a bad idea (oh boy, my least favorite hero hang-up). In addition to the Mike and Ellis’s dueling hang-ups, we have:
- Ellis’s rocky relationship with her sister Dina, who calls her “Smelly Ellie” and who (almost) slept with Mike.
- Ellis gets robbed and beaten up.
- Ellis is worried about the financial future of her shop.
- Just kidding! She doesn’t need to worry because she manages to start a bridal business catering to the unusual-sized on the side while healing from the mugging and starting a relationship with Mike.
- Guess who’s back? Mike’s dad!
While all this is going on, Mike and Ellis go back and forth with each other as they have great sex and then take turns getting cold feet. By the end, I wasn’t sure who was mad at whom anymore, or why. I don’t really think Mike or Ellis knew what was going on either.
The secondary characters are a bit of a mixed bag. I liked Mike’s best friend Colin, an English guy who provides some comic relief. I also like Ellis’s parents. Both of them are professors, and her dad has Asperger’s. However, Dina is completely unbelievable as the selfish older sister, and Jack and his aunt are just as bad.
I also had some minor issues with how food is dealt with in Dangerous Curves Ahead. I loved that Ellis accepted her body and her own attractiveness (at least, most of the time). But I felt that Mike should have listened to her when she said she didn’t want fattening food, rather than trying to tempt her with goodies all the time. I felt that Ellis’s food choices should be her own. But I’m sure this is an area where we all bring our personal experience to the table (pun intended). Maybe for some, a hero who constantly tempts an overweight heroine to eat more is part of the fantasy. part and parcel of “loving her as she is”. to me, though, it was controlling.
On the whole, this isn’t really a book I can recommend. The wishy-washy nature of the hero and heroine’s relationship and the borderline kitchen-sink plotting meant it didn’t really work for me. And it didn’t exactly help that it started out well and went downhill from there. That said, there were glimmers of humor and creative characterization. Here’s hoping that Sugar Jamison capitalizes on these strengths in the future.