Lisa Plumley's Making Over Mike is cute. The heroine, Amanda Connor, is cute, and she and her romantic opposite, Mike Cavaco, meet cute. But the very cutest part of Ms. Plumley's book is her perky prose and her original-but-eventually-tiresome use of dashes to create novel - and sometimes not so novel - adjectives.
Twenty-nine-year-old Amanda Connor is in a cute business. Her start-up company is named Aspirations, Inc., and she and her three employees work with clients to help them realize their dreams. Amanda has a knack for publicity, and she has sold the idea of Life Coach Lotto to a local TV station. Thousands of Life Coach Lotto tickets were distributed in the Phoenix area. The winner will get a complete makeover from Aspirations, Inc., all filmed by Channel Six and aired as a series on the local news. There's only one problem: no Lotto winner has announced him or herself. Amanda desperately needs the publicity her Lotto will generate, or she will have to close down Aspirations, Inc., and lay off her three employees.
When the winner, Mike Cavaco, does show up, it is merely to turn in the tickets that have been left in his cab by mistake. Certainly, he is not the candidate for the whole-life makeover that Amanda has envisioned. She hoped for a "nice, semi-professional, college-educated person who was temporarily in a career-and-life slump." Instead, Mike is a cabdriver who sports an untrimmed beard, ancient sneakers, ripped blue jeans, and a bleach-spotted T-shirt.
Even less encouraging than his appearance is Mike's attitude: he wants no parts of a makeover. He hasn't told his large, Italian family that he lost his job; they think he is only driving the cab part-time as a favor to a friend, not because he's unemployed. Nevertheless, he agrees to the first step - and no more - of a makeover because he feels sorry for Amanda. He knows from personal experience not only how it feels when you lose your job, but also the guilt you suffer when you are the reason your friends are unemployed. Consequently, even though Mike is unsympathetic to Amanda's New Age philosophies, he can't just brush her off. One step at a time, he finds himself drawn in to her whole-life makeover.
Even though Mike is 'way too much of a tough guy for Amanda and Mike thinks Amanda is far too interested in "mushy-gushy, girly communication stuff," physically these two are compatible. Twenty-four hours after they meet, Amanda has Mike pinned down in a chair and is wrestling his shirt off so that she can get closer for their next kiss. However, in what proves to be a pattern, they are interrupted before they can do the deed. In fact, much of the suspense in Making Over Mike comes from wondering whether or not they'll be interrupted again or whether they'll finally go all the way.
I liked Mike and I liked Amanda and, despite their very different attitudes toward life, I could easily imagine them happily married to each other. They were both cheerful, out-going optimists, with few secrets in their past and those not dark ones. No abused childhoods for these two, no tortured love lives. Rather, what drove me crazy was Ms. Plumley's writing style.
Hardly a page goes by without one of the author's adjectival creations. Taken at random from a wide selection of examples: "the new-suit-mingled-with-Safeguard smell of him;" "a super-sloppy, roll-out-of-bed-and-go, prototypical bachelor;" or "her spandex-and-vinyl-covered charms." I was annoyed by these constructions, and - most important - they caused me to pay more attention to Ms. Plumley's words than to the story. However, this is a classic case of Your Mileage May Vary. If this sort of cuteness doesn't bother you, you may get enough enjoyment from Mike and Amanda's hot little romance to justify your $5.99 and the time you spent reading Making Over Mike.
--Nancy J. Silberstein