Desert Isle Keeper
Everything's Coming Up Rosie
Book reviewing can be a challenging job, and the books themselves can be a mixed bag. But what makes the occasional horrid book worthwhile is the joy one experiences when one reads an absolutely fresh, fun romance that you can’t put down. Everything’s Coming Up Rosie is just such a book and I rooted for Doug and Rosie from their first meeting.
Michaels’ book in some ways resembles an opera or musical – as well as a farce as complicated as any Moliere created. Almost the entire plot is advanced by conversation – usually witty – between the protagonists as well as with various secondary characters. Most action occurs “off stage” and we find out about it as Doug and Rosie compare notes. The witty dialogue and unique structure make for a book that immediately earned a place on my keeper shelf.
Michaels takes a big risk with the hero, Doug Llewellyn, who initially is not a very likable guy. Had this been a Regency, he would be one of those attractive rakes who had slept around a lot until brought to his knees by a sweet and virginal young thing. Doug, who is an extremely handsome (of course) hot shot architect on his way to his cousin’s daughter’s wedding and thoroughly dreading the week long festivities. He just turned 40, and as he drives along he thinks about his partner Cam, who found love and is blissfully happy; Doug is nauseated by Cam’s soliloquies on the topic. Doug has happily flitted from flower to flower, never promising an HEA, but since turning the big 4-0 two months earlier, he’s slowed down in his amorous pursuits.
As Doug arrives at the house party, he is greeted by a strange woman calling him “darling” and planting a big, fat, wet kiss on him. Rosie Kilgannon is trying to escape the man her hostess has set her up with for the week, and Doug and Rosie immediately decide to team up to defeat hostess Bettie’s matchmaking efforts to fix them up. They switch all of Bettie’s carefully planned seating arrangements, putting the newly divorced couple (whose other half they were each supposed to comfort) together for the week, with some pleasantly funny results.
Doug is attracted to Rosie, who while gorgeous, is “too old for him”. It’s easier to flit from woman to woman as long as his dates are 23 to 26, as they “have no expectations of commitment”. Look up Peter Pan complex in the encyclopedia and you will find Doug’s picture. Rosie is not daunted by Doug’s practice; she tells him he is “too young” for her! She explains that men in their 60s don’t want long term commitment and have lots of money to spend on their dates. But, they both agree to overlook the mutual age problem and enjoy themselves in a no-strings affair for the week.
The entire plot centers on the week long wedding extravaganza and most of the action is seen through Doug and Rosie’s eyes as they discuss the relationships of their hosts and the other guests. They also try to figure out what is up with the groom, Rob Hemmings, and his obviously unhappy future bride. Allegedly an orphan, Rob has taken a high-paying job with his future father-in-law’s company, but can’t live on his salary and keeps asking for large amounts of cash. He only invited two guests to the wedding and to say they don’t fit in would be an understatement. Leslie and Rizzo look like wise guys, and though they do attempt to blend in, somehow their efforts always fall short. Rosie and Doug are determined to find out who these guys are and what threat they pose to the bride Lili-Beth’s long term happiness.
Rosie is a wonderful heroine; she says all the right things to Doug so he doesn’t panic and run to save his bachelorhood. But it is quickly obvious that her emotions run much deeper. Rosie is a fixer who immediately realizes that the bride, Lili-beth, is engaged to a jerk and is very unhappy. Lili-Beth’s childhood friend Delwood is devoted to her, but too timid to confess his love. Delwood is a nerdish, rich computer geek who will do anything for Lili but is completely inept when it comes to love. Obviously, Delwood needs some outside help from Rosie to save Lili-Beth. This secondary triangular romance is lots of fun and the resolution had me grinning.
Another plot component involves Lili-Beth’s mother Bettie. She presents to the world the face of a happily married rich diva hostess, but she is actually an insecure, drunk, and promiscuous woman who was greatly hurt by her husband’s adultery ten years before and constantly tries to retaliate. Her flings with the young band members are both funny and sad. Husband George for his part ignores Bettie‘s actions and instead retreats to a world of cards and golf. But when George inevitably decides he has had enough of Bettie’s behavior, he sets in motion a chain of events that will determine if Lili will marry the physically appealing, but jerkish Rob Hemmings – whom her father has “bought” for her because she said she wanted him – or the nebbish Delmont.
Everything’s Coming Up Rosie resembles a French farce as there are wheels within wheels of plot all going on simultaneously. But Michaels pulls off the difficult task of keeping all the balls in the air without ever losing control of the story. A deft hand prevents this souffle from sinking into slapstick territory. The humorous dialogue is so wonderful that I found myself rereading passages between Doug and Rosie just for the sheer joy of the word play. Doug’s change from the 40-year-old jerk he was at book’s start to the warm and loving man at book’s end was very believable. I believed his love for Rosie; how could I not as I loved Rosie too? Rosie wasn’t afraid to tell Doug all the things women think about these men who refuse to commit, but never tell them. Rosie is the catalyst for Doug to see how ridiculous and empty his life really was.
Michaels’ latest pleasantly reminded me of another Michaels DIK on my comfort shelf: the historical The Butler Did It. What distinguishes Michaels as an author is that both books are basically classic farces, yet their structure is completely different. This is definitely not an author writing formula romances. Michaels is a prolific author and her longtime readers know she is not afraid to try something new and different. With the exception of High Heels and Homicide, Her Maggie mysteries have been fresh and fun. Since readers are always begging for something different from romance authors, my hat is off to Kasey Michaels for providing it in a totally enjoyable way.