Love at First Sight
Philosophically, I don’t have a problem with love at first sight. I know it’s a premise that some romance readers just can’t buy into, but I can manage to suspend my disbelief most of the time (even if I might think that usually it’s lust at first sight that eventually matures into love). But though I could accept the premise of Love at First Sight well enough, I couldn’t really get into the characters or the plot.
Natalie McLeary lives in Cupid, Texas and has a powerful family legacy to uphold. Cupid is named for a stalactite in a nearby cavern that resembles Cupid – bow, arrows, and all. Natalie’s great-grandmother, Millie, very famously left a love letter asking Cupid for help in the cavern, and eventually landed Natalie’s great-grandfather, a well-to-do man who was engaged to another woman. Since that time Millie – and eventually her descendants – built an entire tourism industry on romance. People still write to Cupid, and Natalie and her relatives answer the letters and dispense advice. The other side of the family legacy is a firm belief in love at first sight. Everyone tells Natalie that when she finds the right guy, she’ll know immediately. But Natalie is 29 and still a virgin, partly because she’s been saving herself for the right guy, and partly because she has a pronounced limp and some self-confidence issues. When she was a child, her entire family was in a plane crash. Both of her parents died, and she pulled her baby sister to safety down a mountain, despite a severely broken leg.
Dade Vega comes to Cupid looking for his foster brother, Red. Red sent him a text message with one word: Tanked. It’s their private SOS signal, and Red hasn’t been heard from since. Since Red was boarding at Natalie’s B&B, Dade decides to stay there himself. The only problem with that idea? There are instant sparks between him and Natalie. Dade can’t afford to be distracted, and he’s a big time drifter. Can Natalie tempt him to settle down? And can he discover what happened to Red? Is the immediate spark between them the real thing?
Well, it’s a romance novel (duh), so yes, yes, and yes. Is it the kind of romance novel for you? Well, if you hate the love at first sight premise, then no. It is, after all, called Love at First Sight. If that sort of thing drives you crazy, you might want to find an alternative, perhaps titled Couple Who Gets to Know Each Other and Eventually Falls in Love. The other potential issue for some readers is that this book is chock full of mental lusting. Years ago, we used to have some reviewers around here who hated that. Often, I couldn’t see why it drove them crazy. Mental lusting is kind of hot, I’d think. I do still think that, up to a point. But when I read this book, I could see what was so annoying about it. Dade and Natalie both think about sex all the time. No, all the time, when they could be doing other things or having actual sex. The extensive mental lusting comes at the expense of the plot, which is almost nonexistent in the first two-thirds of the book. Come to think of it, the mental lusting and love at first sight pretty much go hand in hand; in another book, they might have used this time to fall in love, rather than decide they were already in it and just think about sex they weren’t having yet.
When they do have sex, it’s a big, flowery purple prose fest. Clearly this must work for some people, otherwise we wouldn’t see it so often. But I found myself giggling through the metaphor-laden scene, especially when “A rumpus of sensation bashed into her like a storm – raw scorched lighting, a loud clap of emotional thunder, a bullwhip of wind.” Really? A rumpus?
Somewhat surprisingly, I much preferred the suspense portion of the book, which kicks in toward the end. The plot involving Red’s disappearance is interesting, and the resolution puts both Dade and Natalie in danger. I found this far more entertaining than anything to do with either their love at first sight or their sappy sex scene. Too bad more of the book wasn’t about finding Red.
If you can’t get enough of insta-love and/or mental lusting, you may like this more than I did. Even with a somewhat intriguing suspense subplot, Love at First Sight is just average.