|I wonder how such a prolific writer as Susan Mallery keeps track of
her different series, connected stories and the multitude of
characters they entail. With Irresistible, she focuses again on the Buchanans, owners of several exclusive Seattle dining spots. There
isn't much here about the day-to-day of restaurant management, but a
lot about the backstage life of the family who runs them.
Walker Buchanan joined the Marines to get away from his overbearing
grandmother and to protect himself from further heartbreak. Now a
civilian, he has yet to decide what to do. When the family matriarch
has a heart attack, he steps in to supervise their restaurant
business. Convinced he isn't trustworthy in the long haul, he
nevertheless knows how to honor a debt to a fallen comrade and to
help his neighbors in times of need.
Elissa Towers is a single mother. Between her waitress job and her
fledgling attempts at designing jewelry, she is struggling hard to
make ends meet. No time for romance, even if she wanted it. And she
definitely doesn't. She's convinced she falls only for losers and
has a two-time record to prove it. The first time was when she hit
the road at seventeen with a risk-taking rock-star wannabe. The
second was when she took up with her daughter's no-good father. A
talented musician with a bad drug bad habit, he isn't beyond using
his parental rights to extort a little money.
Neither Walker nor Elissa is looking for love. Friends is another
thing. But as they swap free dinners for household chores and
homemade pies for spare tires, they slowly move from good neighbors
to lovers and much more.
With troubled pasts and personal flaws, Walker and Elissa's story
could easily veer towards the melodramatic, but there is little heavy-
handed angst. Both are capable of picking up their lives and getting
on with it. As such, they are well placed to illustrate the novel's
theme and moral. No one is perfect, it reminds us time and time
again. We have to accept our past mistakes and move on.
This is all nice and good. Yet, Walker and Elissa didn't win me over
completely. Her excessive and misplaced anger towards her parents
lost her a lot of points. She resents them for eventually giving up
looking for her. She thereby overlooks the fact that she ran away
from a warm, supportive family. As for Walker, he is a bit too
perfect to be credible. Replacing a tire is chivalrous, but I hardly
believe that even the best of neighbors would pay for two spares. A
battle-worn Marine would probably drive an elderly acquaintance to
the hospital (and, like Walker, grouch all the way). But escort a
four-year-old kid on a mall spree? I don't think so.
The novel moves at a pleasant, leisurely pace, interspersing the
leads' personal quests with the slowly unfolding romantic
relationship. It regularly plays with reader's expectations without
being too predictable. Hints of things to come kept me turning the
pages. If the revelations weren't as dramatic as I was led to
expect, they were plausible enough not to be too disappointing.
Several subplots featuring other members of the Buchanan family
supplement the main story. Those spotlighted in the previous book
have small follow ups. Others have a mini-plot of their own as they
wait to feature in their own stories. I doubt they will be any more
irresistible than this one. But there is something oddly addictive
about following a family's fortune. The upcoming novels are on my to-
buy list, but probably not at the very top.