|Five years ago, Leah Klein (or Kleinschmit as she used
to be known) had a promising future as an actress and a boyfriend she
believed was about to commit. Then, Michael Raney announced that they
were over and that he was moving to Austria. Leah had a big breakdown
and never really got her life back on track. She shares a shabby
house in a shabby neighborhood with a shabby friend who, like her,
only gets shabby roles. Her tiny part in a Hollywood feature film
might be her last chance. So when she realizes Michael is one of the
stunt coordinators, she is determined to keep her distance and not
let him ruin her life a second time.
Michael Ranney still regrets the decision he made five
years ago. Unbeknownst to Leah, he was actually a CIA operative about
to go on an overseas mission. Though he could have shared his
information with her and asked her to wait for him, the very idea of
commitment gave him cold feet, and he preferred to leave. He is
resolved not to botch his second chance with the only woman he has
Needless to say all Michael's efforts at truth and
reconciliation don't go very far. Leah does not believe he had a spy
past, and has no compunction making a joke of his confession and
turning him into a laughing stock for the entire cast and crew. When
Michael buys her a carful of orchids, she divvies them up with the
other actresses. And when she finally starts to warm up to him, she
has to deal with his extreme bachelor reputation and with his former
enemy now on the set in pursuit of revenge.
Leah and Michael sparkle the occasional moments they
forget their grievances, and it is easy to see why they might have a
future together. Unfortunately, they spend far too much time dragging
their feet and rehashing the same old conflicts over and over again.
What's worse, I fully sympathize with Leah's inability to forgive and
forget. The guy ruined her life but shows very little signs of having
paid for his bad decision. I was torn between my sense of indignant
realism (were she a friend, I would urge her to walk away) and my
desire for romantic fulfillment (she's the heroine and requires a
happy-ever-after). The long and protracted reconciliation process
didn't really produce a happy compromise, and I closed the book
feeling that neither justice nor romance had been served.
Nor did I find the comic part of the romantic comedy
equation all that humorous. I suppose there is something funny when a
kidnapped couple gets relationship advice from a terrorist whose own
wife cheated him, but watching he-men teach a bevy of babes how to
fight just doesn't stoke my laughs. I found the masculine puzzlement
about endless female babble annoying, and when the stunts men
complained how their students were quarrelling over the latest in
shoeware instead of maneuvering through white-water, my lips didn't
even twitch. Then again, humor is fairly subjective, and others might
find these scenes hysterical.
Michael is the second bachelor in the Thrillseekers Anonymous to get his story. I just hope the next adventure from this group of four friends who provide adventure service to the rich and
famous won't be such an extreme frustration.