Knock Me Off My Feet

Public Displays of Affection

Take a Chance on Me

He Loves Lucy by Susan Donovan
(St. Martin's, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0312-99233-5
He Loves Lucy is Donovan's fourth book and the fourth one given 4 hearts by TRR reviewers. Just like her other three, this story has great characters, a funny yet reasonable story and enough sexual tension to keep the reader turning the pages. This story, however, also has characters with depth who learn about themselves and in the doing, help the reader gain some insights. This is a little unique for romance territory, but in Donovan's capable hands, this not only works, it is done well.

Lucy Cunningham is a size 22 and has just agreed to a year-long commitment, which will be followed by the public, to lose weight, just to help promote a customer. Lucy is an ad exec, working for a small firm in Florida. If she can lose 100 pounds in a year, she will earn $100,000; enough to buy her way into her own ad agency. One of the co-owners of Sherrod and Thoms has recently died, leaving the partner that Lucy didn't really like in charge. Stephan Sherrod is said owner, and he is also a snake. He has secret dealings with a competitor and is bound and determined that Lucy not meet her goals.

To help Lucy reach her goal she is hooked up with the account’s premier trainer, Theo Redmond. Theo has worked for the Palm Club for a few years, ever since his mother passed away and he had to quit medical school to care for his teenage brother, who also has Down's syndrome. In his spare time, Theo volunteers for Special Olympics. He has agreed to train Lucy, because he too would win $100,000 – the amount he needs to get back into med school.

Donovan throws in her wit and hits the reader in the funny bone with some of their antics. Lucy chokes on a milk dud and Theo has to give her mouth-to-mouth. Lucy is required to go to counseling and spills her guts, with witty repartee and tongue in cheek. Theo's brother, Buddy, offers wisdom in little spurts too, often just making observations that get right to the heart of the fears that Lucy and Theo harbor about a relationship.

Without giving too much away, the story unfolds as Lucy does well on her program and starts losing weight, all the while realizing she is falling for Theo. Theo has a tradition not to get involved with his clients, but finds himself attracted more and more; not just to the beauty that is evolving, but more to the spirited person who is challenging herself on state-wide television.

Both have secrets and it is their secrets that create the scenario for learning. There are co-workers and friends galore who help them along the way, with Stephan being the primary antagonist. What makes this tale so rich however, is the growth in the two characters. Neither Lucy nor Theo are angels, often showing their temper, jealousy, and acting like people who have known disappointment and are fearful that they will feel it again. Yet, they don't become caricatures or even act childish. They are simply adults dealing with life issues.

The story does slow just a tad in the middle, but quickly picks up as new ideas are introduced. The plot line around Stephan doesn't feel completely fleshed out, but is not too distracting from the primary storyline. Friends and family complement the main story and are a nice addition, especially fellow trainer Tyson and co-worker Veronica.

Overall, He Loves Lucy is a well written and vastly engaging tale that follows in the tradition of previous Donovan stories, while adding a new depth too. She gets better with each novel.

--Shirley Lyons

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