Lucky Charm by Carly Phillips is the the first intallment in a projected three-volume series about three cousins who have been unlucky in love all their lives. In a way, that summary pretty much says it all because, while well-written in some ways, this book is still very conventional.
The plot on the whole Lucky series hinges on a curse spoken generations ago. Because a member of the Corwin family stole the bride of a member of the Perkins family, all Corwin males who fall in love will lose both their money and their women. Having witnessed the deterioration of his father’s and his uncles’ relationships, the loss of their family business, and the resulting unhappiness, Derek Corwin dumped his beloved high school sweetheart Gabrielle the morning after their prom in order to keep her (and himself) safe from the curse. One failed marriage (to a woman he did not love) and one lost fortune later, Derek has returned to his hometown and works as a financial adviser. His 11-year-old daughter Holly is staying with him for the summer.
Gabrielle Donovan has never gotten over Derek, but being the fighter she is, she has devoted her life to debunking popular myths and has made a successful career writing books that expose horoscopes and psychics. Now she is ready to return and to start on her new project- family curses. Her first step is a talk at the public library, at which we also meet several other important characters: the sinister mayor Mary Perkins, descendant of the original curser, who rules the town with an iron hand; her political opponent, Richard Stern; and his fiancée, the town librarian and Gabrielle’s best friend Sharon Merchant. It soon becomes clear that the curse is not the only thing threatening Gabrielle and another character, as damage is done and a blackmail note turns up.
The instant Gabrielle and Derek meet, attraction flares up between them. Their sex scenes are hot and well-written. I liked the fact that they had been a loving couple before; it made the instant heat between them and the speed at which they act on it plausible. In addition, they know each other quite well and can read one another like an open book, which made a refreshing change from the many romance couples who almost willfully misunderstand and doubt each other.
I also liked some of the minor characters: Derek’s daughter Holly, his ex-wife, his grumpy father. Other characters like Richard Stern and the evil mayor never make it beyond the two-dimensional, however. Still, I enjoyed the novel a great deal until page 300. Unfortunately, during the big denouement scene one character acts ridiculously over-the-top without any apparent necessity, which thoroughly spoiled the ending for me.
Thus, a fairly well-written if highly conventional novel turns into a merely average one. Carly Phillips has received better grades at AAR for several of her other books; if you are interested in her novels, perhaps you should pick another an older one and give Lucky Charm a pass.