My brain is full of factoids. That makes me a great Jeopardy player but it’s kind of frustrating because sometimes I can’t remember where I read a certain thing. Anyway, I read somewhere that editors of romance novels think readers don’t like books about athletes. Well editors, this reader loves them, but they are darn hard to find, which is why I was very happy to find Simply Irresistible.
Simply Irresistible features hockey player John “The Wall” Kowalsky. Do any of you remember the game show skit on Saturday Night Live, Quien es mas macho? Well, if the contestants were John Kowalsky and one of Linda Howard’s heroes, I’d have to bet on John. He’s a hard-drinking, rugged guy and don’t forget he’s a hockey player and has a really big – stick. When the book opens, he’s driving to the wedding of Virgil Duffy, his team’s owner to Georgeanne Howard. Georgeanne is a tall, buxom, charming southern belle who has decided at the last minute she does not want to be an old man’s trophy wife. John meets Georgeanne when she trips down the church steps in a totally ridiculous dress and high heels, jumps into his car and asks him to take her away. Now if you were a groupie-groping stud and a centerfold-come-to-life jumped into your car, what would you do? John takes Georgeanne to his beachhouse where he is determined not to touch her, fearing that if the jilted bridegroom finds out that John drove off with the bride-to-be, he’ll trade him to a team where the players wear ducks on their uniforms. John’s good intentions last only until he’s had a couple of drinks and Georgeanne has turned on the charm full-force. They have a passionate one-night fling. The next day, John buys Georgeanne a plane ticket, takes her to the airport and leaves there.
Flash forward seven years. John has matured and cleaned up his act. Oh sure he’s still the baddest guy on ice, but he’s quit drinking and messing around with rink bunnies. He’s even the team captain. Georgeanne has joined with Mae Heron and they are the owners of a successful catering business. When Mae and Georgeanne’s company caters a charity event, John and Georgeanne meet and John finds out that their one night stand produced a daughter, Lexie, who looks just like him.
Georgeanne and Lexie accept an invitation to stay at John’s house for the weekend so he can get to know his daughter. Neither John nor Georgeanne is the same person they were seven years ago. John is still rough and macho but he is sober. Georgeanne is still full of southern charm, but no longer feels like she has to play the bimbo. The attraction between them is still powerful, but both are carrying emotional baggage from their past, and do not want to base a relationship on physical attraction alone. They spend most of the book alternately attracted to each other and fighting that attraction until they finally realize that what they feel for each other is not just lust, it’s love.
Simply Irresistible is one of the funnier books I’ve read this year. It’s witty and has some really side-splitting dialogue. Rachel Gibson does a wonderful job with the characters of John and Georgeanne, but she doesn’t do as well with some of her secondary characters. Georgeanne’s business partner, Mae falls in love with one of John’s teammates, but their relationship is not developed to any satisfactory degree, and the whole subplot seems tacked on. Georgeanne has a gentleman friend, Charles, who serves no purpose at all, and could easily be dispensed with, while Virgil the team owner is just forgettable. Lexie was alternately cute and annoying which I guess makes her realistic, but I thought she was more annoying than cute.
Rachel Gibson’s combination of sports and humor is reminiscent of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, but she hasn’t quite mastered Ms Phillip’s knack for giving us well-developed relationships between the secondary characters. Still, if you are fond of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, or if you like books with athletes as heroes, pick up Simply Irresistible, I think you’ll like it.