Mr. Valentine tells the story of Jack Killigan, a glasses-wearing, junk-food ingesting blue collar guy who works in the shipping department of a paper manufacturer. At night, however, he follows his writing muse and enters his romance novel in an unpublished author contest. His friend, Krysta Luekenhoff, is white collar management, trying desperately to get a promotion so the accompanying raise can help support her ailing father and four younger brothers. Krysta and Jack come from the same small town, and though Krysta has never thought of Jack in that way, it’s clear that Jack sees things differently.
Entered into the contest under a female pseudonym, Jack not only wins the contest, but also garners an offer from a publisher. Since he doesn’t want to blow his gender cover, Jack asks Krysta to speak with the editor. Not only does Krysta do just that, she also negotiates a better deal for him, and the publisher decides to launch an all-out marketing effort to promote “Candy Valentine’s” debut release. Masquerading as “Candy,” Krysta flies to New York with Jack. Throughout, the reader is privy to both Jack and Krysta’s feelings, watching as she realizes she feels for him what he has felt for her all along.
A lot of Mr. Valentine is a cliché, but Thompson’s writing manages at times to transcend the predictable plot. But even though Jack is a charming guy who undergoes a radical transformation, Krysta is not as well-defined and it is difficult at times to understand Jack’s fascination with her.