Wanted: An Interesting Life
by Bev Katz Rosenbaum
(Harl. Flipside, $4.50, G) ISBN 0-373-44188-6
**
The Flipside stories are advertised as “falling in love one laugh at a time.” This is my third Flipside and I have enjoyed the humorous aspects of the previous stories. Wanted: An Interesting Life was more slapstick and zany than I cared for and the romance left me feeling flat.

Lou Bergman is having a Capra-moment – she thinks her life is unfulfilling. She is a twenty-nine year old going on thirty (didn’t we all make that leap?) who is questioning how her life has progressed (why is this always so painstaking in romance novels?). She is a videographer for a company that specializes in weddings and she works with her two best friends, Nic and Pauline. She has just ended a relationship with a man, Alan, who was more interested in his stock portfolio than her, and she is lamenting her life…quite frankly, Lou is a whiner, and a big one.

Pauline’s cousin, Jake Roth, owner of a set of cafes called Havajava, has the hots for her. But no one really knows it. Now he decides to “romance” her by convincing her she really has a good life and his upper echelon lifestyle doesn’t have to be as boring as Alan’s. He makes a bet with her that in one year she will realize her life is good even while she tries out all the artsy, bohemian things she thinks are important. Lou agrees.

She quits her job to live off her nest egg and write the screenplay that has been floating in her head. In the midst of doing this, her lead character, a Capra-style girl, pops into her dreams and becomes her conscience. While the author tried to make this silly and funny, it left me wondering about Lou’s mental health.

Jake, on the other hand, is a wonderful man who not only likes his job; he also paints on the side. Of course, when Lou makes him feel guilty for not using his talents, he has an epiphany and changes for her, just as she realizes she can have a good life and still be artsy. His approach to this challenge is to be good friends with Lou so that she will discover they are meant to be together. I was never quite able to figure out when he fell in love with her – it was like popping into a story midway. And I never really figured out why he loved her, especially when she really didn’t give him any reason to love her. She whined, she was stubborn and she made some stupid mistakes for a city girl. For example, she decides to find a cheaper apartment and goes to live in a nice tenement house with a ridiculously low rent. Then she is horrified to discover there are rodents and cockroaches in the place. Earth to Lou – you are in a city!

There are literally a dozen characters thrown in who come and go in Lou’s life, all to convince her that life is not always greener on the other side of the fence. There is a core group of wacky people who apparently are regulars at the coffee shop, and who butt into each other’s conversations. While it was clear that the author tried to make these people engaging, I could never quite get pulled into their bizarre lives. There is the “biker” who delivers messages via bicycles for a living, the wannabe singer/musician who is dating a future VP from IBM, the pseudo-cosmopolitan woman who always has a stud on her arm, and the shy retiring ex-entrepreneur who constantly laments his lack of success - not a sterling crew to recommend itself.

But the major downfall of the story is the lack of heat in the romance. Jake and Lou have a lot of fun together, sharing time at a restaurant, going skiing, and even Jake playing the hero when Lou needs rescuing from the bugs. But there is no real heat, no chemistry that I could sink my teeth into. Bland is a word that comes to mind.

It is hard for a series who advertises itself as humorous and full of laughter to hit the mark every time. Wanted: An Interesting Life just didn’t quite make it.

--Shirley Lyons


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