Sunday, February 15, 2009

Flirting With Temptation - Kelley St. John


Flirting With Temptation
Kelley St. John
Forever/Grand Central

Contemporary Romance

In her thirty-four years, Babette Robinson has followed several different career paths. She’s studied for several degrees (and has the student loan debt to show for it) and has held twenty-three different jobs. She’s just not sure what she wants to do with her life. That all changes when Babette attends a wedding for Richard and Genie, a couple she helped to reconnect. During the groom’s toast, Richard specifically thanks Babette for reuniting the two and calls her their “personal love doctor.”

This gives Granny Gert, Babette’s irrepressible grandmother, an idea. Babette’s current fascination is reading people through body language. Why not translate those skills into a business? Plenty of people out there would love to get back with an old flame; or wonder what might have happened with someone who was ‘just a friend.’ Babette grabs the idea and runs with it. She becomes The Love Doctor. The income is great, and she’s got a 100% success rate so far. Too bad she can’t use it on her old flame, Jeff Eubanks. The two were on-and-off for three years until a silly fight over the phone ended things. Now he’s engaged to Kitty Carelle, a local socialite.

The wedding date for Jeff and Kitty comes and goes with no wedding. Turns out the two broke up, but Kitty’s aversion to publicity has kept the details out of the society pages. Babette is shocked and dismayed when Kitty wants to hire her – at triple her usual fee – to get Jeff back for her. Talk about a conflict of interest! But Babette can’t turn down the payday, and wants to remain professional, so she agrees. Kitty has no idea that Babette and Jeff used to see each other. Babette decides to give it her best shot. Jeff instantly shoots her down, but comes up with an interesting counter-proposal: if Babette can get through the next week without flirting with other men (he believes women can’t commit) then he’ll agree to at least talk to Kitty. That should be easy. Right?

Babette is written as a sort of free spirit. But, really, what kind of mid-thirties woman would find it nearly impossible to stop flirting like a teenager for a week or so? That shouldn’t be that much of a challenge. And throwing Jeff and Babette together practically ensures that those old sparks are going to fly. There really isn’t a whole lot of suspense about what’s going to happen there. So it’s a good thing that Granny Gert, a widow, asks for Babette’s help in reconnecting with an old flame from her very distant past. Between this subplot and the various other senior citizens who live in Jeff’s resort/condo building, things remain interesting.

This novel is based on one of my pet peeves: the fight/misunderstanding that could have been solved, long ago, with one direct, honest conversation. When Babette and Jeff fight on the phone, they’re both too stubborn to be the one who calls back, and allow that fight to widen into a rift. It’s silly for a couple of adults. (Other readers love this plot device, I know.) On the very bright side, Babette’s transformation from unemployed to The Love Doctor is handled in a brilliantly realistic way. It’s not just another goofy venture; it’s something she’s good at and a real career for her. The secondary characters, including various family members are all funny and believable and make the trip more than worthwhile. Over all, this is a fun, light read.

Rating: 6 ½
February 2009
ISBN# 0-446-61923-X (paperback)

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