She’s No Angel
How many romances are set in fictional small towns? They are usually Mayberry-type hamlets that just might hide a few wicked secrets, but generaly they appear as wholesome as a slice of apple pie on the outside. Leslie Kelly has imagined up the quirky named Trouble, PA, and this town isn’t like any other: Dark, dreary, and on the verge of being flat-out run down. Perfect spot for a romance, eh?
Mike Taylor and Jennifer Feeney, both resident New Yorkers, are in Trouble visiting their respective relatives. Mike is on his way to his eccentric grandfather’s house when he spots a furious Jen walking down the side of the road barefoot and wielding a tire iron. Being a cop and also noticing that this crazy lady is quite attractive, he pulls over to assess the situation and offer help.
Jen was just dumped on the side of the road by her elderly aunts. She is their closest relative and has been left to “look after” the crazy broads. Aunts Ida Mae and Ivy are extremely singular in their characterizations. They are probably the meanest, strangest, most conniving old ladies I’ve come across and still manage not to be the villains. Jen wants them to live in a retirement home where they can be looked after and not have the threat of their ancient houses crumbling down on them. It’s when Jen brings up this suggestion that the ladies dump her on the outskirts of town.
Mike and Jen are both wary of the other at first. They will admit to a strong level of attraction and decide to try a little no-strings action since neither is looking for love. They also acknowledge how wrong they are for each other and know that anything meaningful would never work out. Jen is slightly cynical about men, but not as much as it seems from her two bestselling books basically pointing out why Men Are Scum. They were both written very tongue-in-cheek with Jen more or less highlighting and fictionalizing stories from friends and family that showcased her own unique humor, rather than giving actual advice. Well, some ladies took her words to heart and left a lot of men very peeved off at Jen. She’s currently trying to deny to herself that she has a stalker.
Mike doesn’t have a great track record either. He was burned pretty badly by women in his past. Unlike most men Jen has met in the years since her books came out, Mike sees the humor in them and doesn’t shun her as a man-hater. Things go on swimmingly – if you don’t count the cars try to run them down on street corners and constant crank calls – until Jen discovers Mike is actually a member of the cold case department of the NYPD. Seems Jen’s Aunt Ivy has a few too many skeletons in her closet to make this a happy coincidence.
Mike and Jen are a great couple and strong individuals. The fact that I think of them as people is testament to their full characterizations. This is the couple you’d want to have over for dinner. Jen plays her quick, sarcastic wit off Mike’s stuffiness and the results are funny and charming. It amused me to see all their attempts to have a no-strings affair squashed, forcing them to actually care for one another before jumping into bed.
While reading I knew there was something different here that I just couldn’t put my finger on. It hit me shortly after I finished. For the first time, I felt that the mental lusting and love scenes were rather realistic, yet not overly crude. How the author accomplished this is hard to describe because of its subtlety, but trust me on this.
There is a small sideline romance between two of the elderly residents of Trouble that really added a lot to this book for me. I know, it doesn’t sound all that great to watch a couple only a few years from eighty courting or thinking naughty thoughts. Again, trust me, it’s a small part of the overall picture, but entirely sweet and sigh inducing.
Leslie Kelly’s review grades at AAR have been all over the place. I took a chance that I’d get a hit rather than a miss and I’m happy to say this is a hit. She’s No Angel is an enjoyable summer romance that is fit for anyone’s beach bag.