Are You Lonely Tonight?

Duets 93

Private Lies

 
If the Stiletto Fits…
by Wendy Etherington
(Harl. Flipside, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-44203-3
**
It is really difficult to describe two more dislikable characters than Lily and James in If the Stiletto Fits. And with two dislikable characters, it is hard to recommend this story. Going shopping for shoes would be a better alternative than reading this tale.

Lily Reaves is a shoe designer – mainly high heels with lots of color, sparkle and flowers. The only nice way to describe her is a “creative airhead.” She is trying to build a business and has landed a contract to provide shoes for all the designers in The Spectacular, a huge fashion show. The only thing that keeps her business running is her manager – James Chamberlin. Her office receptionist is a young girl just like her who mixes up messages, tries to wear all the newly designed shoes and has aspirations to be just like Lily. Lily lives in the building where she has her business and thrives on New York City – the glamour, the glitz, the parties and the fun.

James is staid, boring, thrives on organization and is looking for a way out of the city. He has purchased a farm in Connecticut and wants to move there, settle down with his boring girlfriend and live happily ever after. He spends all of his time running Lily's operation and feels the need to get out of the chaos. When he tells Lily he is leaving at the end of his contract in three months, she is devastated. He realizes how pretty she is and how much he is going to miss her. But he is determined to go.

Three quarters of the book revolves around the newly-found attraction they both discover. Ah, Lily now realizes she has the hots for James, too, although she loathes admitting it. But she also is desperate. She doesn’t think she and her business can survive without James. He does all the hard stuff; she just dreams up new shoes. She pulls out all the tricks, until she realizes they aren't tricks. She likes James and lusts for him. James keeps pushing her away, even though he now is attracted to her fun and pizzazz. In the background of all this is the big show and how they need to get ready for it.

There are two side plots that are less than engaging. One involves the ditzy receptionist and her quest to learn from Lily. The second involves James' parents. They are show people and are extremely passionate. They revel in the limelight and are now at odds over James' decision to leave town. It is their lifestyle that has made James want something different. He refuses to think he will be that passionate and chaotic over anything.

Lily is “creative” and thus acts stupid. She cannot be organized or even somewhat sensible. James is the exact opposite. The two are so stereotypical. Lily goes from lamenting about her shoes and colors to lamenting that she should feel guilty since James works so hard. Then she realizes that she would hate to have to work so hard, so off she goes into space cadet land again. At one point, having to design pink shoes instead of orange, all she sees is pink cotton candy. When James shows up in a gray suit, all the sudden she is inspired to add gray piping to that shoe and ta-da – the perfect shoe. Now she needs James as her muse!

James, on the other hand, is boring. He always wears a suit and hates anything to be out of place. He swears he can't work in chaos yet he succeeds in it very well every day. He dates a nice little schoolteacher whom he has placed in his neat little box of a life he wants, until he realizes that she is boring and won't even let him kiss her.

I never really could understand what Lily and James were attracted to, except both are apparently extremely nice to look at. And it wasn't until James said he was quitting that they really started to notice that. Please just shoot me now.

I had a difficult time getting through this book. I was extremely disappointed in Etherington's tale, since I had enjoyed two of her previous books immensely. She writes lighthearted romantic comedy well, but this time she missed the boat on these two characters. If the Stiletto Fits is one to miss – find yourself a real shoe store instead.

--Shirley Lyons


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