Jill Marie Landis has become the latest historical romance author to
jump to contemporaries. Frankly, Iím not completely persuaded that the
move is a success. While Landisí historical romances were often edgy and
unusual, her first contemporary is predictable if pleasant enough.
Somehow the emotional resonance found in her earlier books is simply not
Landisí hero is that all too common staple of contemporary romance, the
private investigator. Jake Montgomery has worked his way up to owning
his own small but successful agency. Six years earlier, while working
for a larger firm, he had been assigned to the case of the missing
Caroline Graham. The young woman and her young son had disappeared from
sight after the death of her fiancť.
Rick Saundersí wealthy and powerful parents had not approved of his plan
to marry the mother of his son. A waitress at a truck stop, Caroline was
not the kind of woman they wanted him to wed. After his death, the
Saunders sent their lawyer to pay off Caroline and to gain custody of
Christopher. Believing that she had no chance of winning a legal battle
with the Saunders, Caroline had fled.
Jake had a personal interest in the case; Rick had been his best friend.
He has never quite given up on finding the missing woman and child and a
clue brings him to the coastal California town of Twilight Cove. There
he finds his quarry. Caroline, now known as Carly Nolan, has made a life
for herself and her son. She works in the local diner, sells an
occasional painting, lives in a small trailer, and keeps mostly to
Rather than rushing back to Long Beach to inform the now widowed Anna
Saunders of his discovery, Jake decides to find out more about Carly and
Christopher. Predictably the acquaintance quickly ripens into something
more. Jake discovers that Carly is a wonderful mother, that Christopher
is a well adjusted kid, and Twilight Cove is a perfect place to put down
Predictably, Carly discovers the truth about Jake before he can come
clean. Predictably, Anna Saunders and her nasty lawyer find out what
Jake is up to. Predictably, the town rallies to Carly. And Iím sure that
you can predict the rest of the story as well.
Sometimes the characters can rise above a hackneyed plot. Unfortunately,
this is not the case with Loverís Lane. Jake and Carly are
uniformly nice people. Certainly Carly is to be admired for rising above
her dreadful childhood and youth. Indeed, she is so eminently admirable
that she is almost boring. Landis tries to give Jake an interesting
personal history but doesnít really succeed in making him compelling.
And then there is the terminally cute Christopher, the perfect child who
just wants a daddy.
Given the above, I suppose Loverís Lane should merit a ďthink
twiceĒ rather than an ďacceptableĒ rating. The fact remains that Landis
is a talented storyteller and, for all its predictability, the book is
entertaining. I do recommend that readers look for it in the library or
wait for the paperback release rather than pay hardback prices.
Frankly, I find it hard to believe that the author of Blue Moon,
Come Spring and last yearís unusual Magnolia Creek has
penned such a predictable contemporary romance. A number of Landisí
historical romances reside on my keeper shelf. I can only hope that she
returns to the past or finds a contemporary plot more worthy of her talent.