Under the Covers
I really liked Abby Jensen, the heroine of Under The Covers. I really, really liked her. Whenever the story focused on Abby, I was quite pleased. As for everything else about the book, well, “Uneven but shows promise,” covers it nicely.
All marriage counselor Abby Jensen wanted to do was write a book to help couples keep romance alive in their marriages. She thinks of her book, Under the Covers, as a tool to resurrect marriages that have gone a little stale, but her publisher and publicist have marketed it, and her, as the Dear Abby of sex books. Abby is horrified, but the book is selling like the latest John Grisham. Just as she is about to go on a major television talk show book tour, Abby finds out that her husband, Lenny, has left her for another man and that the two of them are wanted for fraud not only by the police, but also by some of Lenny’s “associates.”
Since Abby is to be featured along with her husband on the tour, her sister, part-time actress and major flirt Chelsea, volunteers to find Abby a television husband. Hunter Stone, a reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, wants to do a story on the real Abby Jensen. Hunter’s career hasn’t been going too well lately, and if he writes a good tell-all exposé, it will give his career a much needed boost. Posing as actor Harry Henderson, Hunter takes the job as Abby’s husband for the book tour, prepared to expose a money-hungry cynic. But the woman he encounters is sweet, kind and totally dedicated to the institution of matrimony.
Like I said, I liked Abby from the first. Her mother and father are free spirits and had never married, but her grandmother and grandfather are still happy together after 60 years and are her ideal for marriage. Abby truly believes that a happy marriage is possible for anyone and has dedicated her career to helping couples achieve this. She is also devoted to her sisters: Victoria, who does not date; and Chelsea, whose motto is You can never have too many shoes or too many men.
Hunter began as a bit of a jerk. His ex-wife had been a reader of Abby’s works and Hunter blamed her for the break-up of his marriage. Fortunately, that attitude did not last – not after he got to know Abby. Hunter engages in some odd stunts during the course of the book. At one of Abby’s early book signings (before he passed himself off as Harry Henderson) he dressed up as a woman to check out Abby. When one of her contact lenses fell out, and she started to wink a lot, Hunter thought she was winking at him and that she was secretly a lesbian. Not funny. However, once Hunter goes into his Harry persona and begins to spend time with Abby, he softens up and becomes much more likable. The divorced Hunter deeply loves his five-year-old daughter, which served to make him more human. That said, however, his daughter was one of those teeth-grindingly “cute” baby talking characters.
The story swung between funny – like the time Abby gave some tips to a group of senior citizens – and overly silly – like the time Abby’s dignified sister Victoria helped out by posing as a stripper. There were other over-the-top incidents and characters too, such as the thug who is looking for Lenny…who wears a leisure suit. (Probably found in the same landfill where he stashed Jimmy Hoffa.) When the story focused on Abby and Hunter, I enjoyed it very much. When it went off into the stratosphere, so did my patience.
Under the Covers shows some real promise; even with all the faults I’ve enumerated, Abby (and eventually Hunter) are an engaging couple. If author Herron can get secondary characters as good as her lead ones, and tone down the farce several notches, she will be a writer of romantic comedy to be reckoned with.