Nobody But You
One of the great perks of reviewing is that you sometimes end up reading a book that you otherwise might have let stay in the TBR pile for awhile. For me, that was the case with Julie Kenner’s Nobody But You. I would have picked up the book anyway, because it sounds fun and has some really great cover art, but I might not have read it right away. That would have been a shame, because this light hearted, romantic homage to noir P.I. novels was exactly what I needed to end my year of reading on an up beat.
Jacey Wilder spent her entire childhood being moved from one home to another by her flighty mother. So although she has inherited her mother’s artistic ability, she has decided that with her 30th birthday approaching, it’s time to settle down and start leading a more settled life. Part of her plan is to date a nice, reliable guy. Unfortunately, Jacey has had a string of bad dates and, due to a rather silly misunderstanding, lost track of Al, the only seemingly normal guy she has dated. She hires a private detective David Anderson to find Al. Anderson is a smart-mouthed, annoying private investigator who drives like a maniac and has a habit of paying more attention to the novel he’s writing than to his surroundings. Of course, he is also sexy as hell and a damn good P.I. (noir talk is not for sissies) and soon Jacey finds herself working to keep her mind on Al. Especially after David finds out that Al is not exactly the boy next door.
As David and Jacey try to figure out who Al really is and why it seems as if a mobster is now interested in Jacey, the story moves along in a wonderfully snappy style. Not only are David and Jacey both likable characters, their dialogue is great; funny and breezy, much like the screwball comedies of the 40s. Even with the light dialogue, Julie Kenner manages to keep the chemistry between the pair hot. It is the classic I-am-incredibly-attracted-to-you-even-though-I-do-not-want-to-be-syndrome, and Kenner pulls it off wonderfully. You know the two of them are going to get together eventually, but watching them go through the push/pull of the attraction is so fun that you are totally caught up in the courtship. I think one of the highest compliments I can give is to point out that this is an almost 400-page book and it was such an engrossing, breezy read that I would have guessed it to be much shorter.
One great detail is that each chapter of the book begins with a piece of the novel David is trying to write. These snippets are immensely enjoyable. His book tended to get mixed up in what ever was going on in the book at the time and the “this is how it would be if I got to live out my noir fantasy life” commentary was very funny. I have to sympathize with a man who would rather be staking out a suspect than dealing with the plumber. In addition, I really enjoyed the references to classic noir movies and novels. Can anyone really have too much Bogart?
Nobody But You also has an interesting cast of secondary characters. I would adopt David’s Aunt Millie. Her relationship with David was great and she was the perfect savvy, yet eccentric girl Friday. His friend Phineus (Finn) was also very intriguing as a computer whiz sidekick who could not decide on a set career and was trying out a lot of different options, including law school. Both Finn and Aunt Millie added to the forward movement of the plot and were welcome additions to the story line. I was happy to see that Finn will be getting his own book in 2004. I will be checking it out.
I almost never comment on the cover of a book – especially in romance where my reaction to covers has been known to range from “Huh?” to “Why is that proper Victorian maiden dressed in a nightgown from Fredrick’s of Hollywood?” But when the publisher chose the cover for Nobody But You they did an exceptional job. The cover has a great vintage feel to it that serves to set the tone for the book admirably. The eye catching cover is one of the reasons I requested this book for review, and it is nice to see a great book getting a cover that adds to its appeal.
If you are in the mood for a romance that manages to take itself lightly and still have a lot of sizzle mixed with the humor, I strongly recommend Julie Kenner’s Nobody But You. Do not be surprised if afterwards you find yourself renting The Maltese Falcon.