Desert Isle Keeper
Take a Chance On Me
Contemporary romances don’t get much better than Take A Chance On Me. It’s got the thinnest suspense plot in the universe, but the characters! Such wonderful characters! But wait there’s more. You want sexual tension? This book drips with it. How about a love scene that is everything that a love scene should be? There’s humor, a touch of angst, and delightful dialogue. Throw in the cutest, ugliest, most endearing dog ever, and you’ve got a major winner here.
Thomas Tobin is one tortured hero. By nature, he is a quiet loner and his job makes him extremely cynical. An attorney, he serves on a team where he poses as a murderer for hire. Being around the kind of people who want to hire a hit man doesn’t exactly make one an optomist when it comes to human nature. If that weren’t enough, a rugby accident years before left him with a sperm count near zero, and when his long-time girl friend found out, she dumped him – in the doctor’s office.
Recently divorced Emma Jenkins is a veterinarian specializing in animal behavior, and her business is on shaky financial ground. Emma is pretty in a farm-girl type of way, but she isn’t thin and glamorous. She’s a size 12, thinks her butt’s too big and has a bad self-image courtesy of the ex-husband. Emma is a romantic, would love to be swept off her feet, but like a lot of women she wonders where all the good men are.
Emma meets Thomas when he comes to her with Hairy. Hairy is a Chinese Crested dog that Thomas found by the body of Slick, one of his best snitches. It’s pretty obvious that Hairy saw the murder, and was traumatized by it. Thomas took Hairy in, but he can’t seem to do anything for the poor, shaky, pissing dog. So he and Hairy go to see Emma.
Emma and Thomas are attracted (are they ever attracted!)! But both of them are once bitten, twice shy. They don’t act on their attraction even though they think about each other, a lot. When Hairy suffers an asthma attack courtesy of the cigar smoke at Thomas’s poker night, he and Emma meet again, they talk and then the sparks really fly. Emma is eventually swept off her feet – in spades!!
Thomas is one of the best wounded, tortured heroes I’ve come acrss. He’s a quiet man who would love to love and be loved, but his job and past experience work against him and he doubts his self-worth. His sister and brother-in-law worry that he is suffering from depression; why, the poor man doesn’t even want to go out drinking after a rugby match! Thomas’s behavior toward Emma is to pull her toward him and at the same time push her away, which drives her crazy. At one point he comes perilously close to jerkdom, but we know enough about his background to understand his reaction. Emma describes him perfectly as a battle scarred tom cat who just wants to come inside.
Emma is a delight. She is a warm, loving, pretty woman who who is smart, but has no idea how sexy she is. The attraction she feels toward Thomas all but makes the pages sizzle. When he pulls the “come here/no, go away” act on her, she lets him have it but good – Emma is no doormat. When she and Thomas finally do make love, the scene is the hottest, sweetest, and sexiest love scene I’ve read all year and I doubt anyone will top it.
While Thomas and Emma are the focus of Take A Chance On Me, the novel features a great secondary character in Elizabeth (Leelee), the daughter of an old friend of Emma’s who was killed in a wreck. Leelee is fiercely intelligent, and has a caustic sense of humor (she calls Thomas, Thomas The Tongue). Leelee feels out of place living on a farm with Emma and acts up some, but she does not go around trailing bad attitude. She can be tart, and prematurely worldly-wise, but is too kind and smart to be a brat. I thought she was adorable. And wait till you see how she and Hairy… well, I’ll let you discover that on your own.
Hairy is the most charming dog in any romance I have ever read (and yes, that includes all of Jennifer Crusie’s books). I couldn’t stop laughing when Thomas went shopping for Kotex – Hairy has housebreaking problems. Donovan lets us into Hairy’s mind at times, and this makes for lots of fun. Yep, when Thomas (aka Big Alpha) and Hairy go walking, just two alpha males marking their territory, and run into their flamboyantly gay neighbor and his dog… well, I’ll let you discover that on your own.
Take A Chance On Me is going to end up very, very high on my list of best romances for 2003. I enjoyed Susan Donovan’s first book, Knock Me Off My Feet very much and with this book, she is now firmly on my auto-buy list. I plan to buy several copies of this one, and I can see it will be a favorite comfort read for a long time.