Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It by Lucy Monroe
(Zebra, $5.99, R) ISBN 0-8217-7771-8
Monroe’s follow-up to Come Up And See Me Sometime has everything: an alpha male scarred by his illegitimate birth; a formerly virgin heroine who toyed with his affections and abandoned him; mistrust, miscommunication and for good measure, a secret baby. Think of a Harlequin Presents novel with an extra 200 pages and you’ll have a rough idea of what to expect here. That could be either a good or bad thing depending on how your reading tastes run.

Marcus Danvers cannot believe his own eyes. When he left Portland to take a job in Seattle the last person he expected to see was Veronica Richards. Kline Technology has hired Marcus to ferret out a corporate spy in their midst and Ronnie is conveniently in the mix. The same woman who sold corporate secrets from Marcus’ company, CIS. The same woman who left town with her ill-gotten gains after carrying on a torrid affair with him. She’s a liar, a thief and, worst of all, he’s been celibate for 18 long months because he cannot get her out of his system.

Ronnie had good reason for selling out CIS. Her younger sister was diagnosed with a nearly fatal blood disorder and thanks to the slow moving FDA, she had to get treatment in France. She’s desperately in love with Marcus, but his insistence on a no-strings, just sex affair didn’t exactly instill a ton of confidence in her. So she figured she couldn’t rely on him for any sort of commitment. She also knew that if he found out she was pregnant with his baby that he would take their son, Aaron, away from her. After all, she betrayed him and CIS.

If your eyes are rolling back in your head after reading that plot description Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It is likely not the book for you.

Marcus and Ronnie are classic romance caricatures, and that is most definitely not a good thing. These two couldn’t communicate their way out of a paper bag. There is absolutely no trust whatsoever here. It’s hard to believe in a happily-ever-after when both characters need therapy. At the very least they’ll need a marriage counselor before they’re even back from the honeymoon.

Marcus feels betrayed by Ronnie. He let her get closer than any other woman and she sold him out, taking the money and running away. Ronnie is alone, because she loves Marcus but his harping on “no commitment” and “just sex” leads her to take drastic action without seeking his help. It never really dawns on either of these two that maybe they should keep their clothes on long enough to have a meaningful conversation.

Secret baby plots are legendary in Romance Novel Land, and while this reviewer isn’t a huge fan of them, they have worked for me in the past. This one though is just abhorrent. Ronnie doesn’t tell Marcus about his son because she’s afraid she’ll take Aaron away from her. Why? Because she sold CIS corporate secrets. Never mind that she was never convicted for this crime, that the hero in Come Up And See Me Sometime didn’t pursue any legal action, and that there is no solid proof. I don’t know much about family law, but I do know that the courts aren’t terribly anxious to rip away 10-month-old babies from their mothers without good reason. And while Ronnie is a dimwit, she’s hardly a crack-addicted prostitute robbing liquor stores. To add insult to injury, she could really use the financial support. She’s scrapping for pennies to support a baby and her younger sister. Yeah, having Marcus pay some child support just might cause the end of the world.

Ultimately it’s this lack of real communication that makes this a tedious story. If Ronnie and Marcus would only talk to each other or show a modicum of trust this wouldn’t make a half bad read. Instead when they make a tiny bit of headway they fall back into their old patterns. On the bright side, Monroe can write. I finished this story in three sittings even though it just about drove me insane. If the plot description sounds like your cup of tea, then by all means, go for it! It’s well written, it’s just annoying on many levels.

--Wendy Crutcher

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