Five O'Clock Shadow
FIve O’Clock Shadow is a quirky romance that often had me laughing out loud. It’s told in first person by heroine Jessie Adams, an indie disc jockey running for the city council. I loved Jessie, I loved hero Chuck Jackson, and I loved the eccentric cast of supporting characters. The story was pretty Seinfeldish (nothing too much happens) and it runs out of steam toward the end, but it has its charms.
Jessie Adams lives in Playa Vista, a small community filled with unique small businesses and a few McMansions. Various developers and the politicians they have in their pockets would like to change the zoning laws so that Playa Vista can kick out the small businesses and have more and more McMansions. Jessie’s good friend Lisa owns a coffee bar called The Shack where lots of musicians hang out and do shows and it looks as though The Shack is in danger of being razed to make room for more showy houses. Jessie is not happy with this situation at all and she vows to help Lisa by getting directly involved, namely running for the city commission. She gets all business suited up, maxes out her credit card to pay the filing fee, and gets her name on the ballot. Then filled with civic pride, Jessie sets out for home, runs into a man and is knocked off her feet (literally…she isn’t used to heels).
The man is Chuck Jackson, a police officer who chivalrously escorts Jessie home. When they get there, they have mad passionate, impulsive sex. Hmm – Jessie isn’t that kind of woman and she puzzles over why she did such a thing – but she hasn’t much time to muse since the campaign is starting right up. Jessie goes to The Shack where Lisa is hosting a fundraiser for her and while while she’s there, Lisa gets a threatening call, so Jessie thinks she ought to hire a bouncer for the club. When the bouncer comes by, he brings his friend who turns out to be Chuck and zing! the attraction heats up again.
Chuck isn’t inclined to mull too deeply over why he is attracted to Jessie, he just is. They like the same music, they like pizza, they love Star Trek (the one with Kirk and Spock) and he compares their attraction to a Vulcan Mind Meld. It turns out that Chuck is pretty handy when the candidates start experiencing dirty tricks.
I’m ambivelent about angst in my romances. A certain amount is fine to wallow in, but there are times when I get a little tired of the “I like him, but I shouldn’t since we are sooooo different” Shades of high school. Jessie and Chuck are attracted to each other and they know it. They don’t worry about it, they don’t mull it to death. They are adults, they like each other and they end up as a couple. Nice.
The dialogue is fun and fresh and Jessie is such an endearing character. The main problem with the book is that toward the end, the supporting characters pile up in such profusion that I got lost. But, I think I’ll be better when I read it again. I plan to, just to savor the funny, snappy dialogue and get re-aquainted with the characters.