Because of Jane
by Lenora Worth
(Harl. Super. #1684, $5.50, G) ISBN978-0373-71684-5
**
Lenny Paxton is an ex-football player with a lot of baggage. His story is unfolded throughout the tale and, by the time it is done, we have learned all about Lenny's grandmother Bertie, who just recently died of Alzheimers, his four ex-wives and his insecurity which led to a kind of a breakdown. The story opens as Lenny has holed up in the middle of Arkansas in his grandmother's house. He lost the big game and had a meltdown on TV. He has an agent who is concerned that Lenny is about to walk away from a big deal that he needs. So the agent, Marcus Ramon, hires someone to help Lenny.

Jane Harper, Ph.D, is in a funk herself. She is the oldest daughter of college professors who never really understood her. She is almost broke, so she took this job. And as a side job, she agreed to write an article about Lenny for Sidelined sports magazine, a magazine with a reputation similar to an entertainment rag. To salvage her pride, Jane told the editor that there would be no article without Lenny's permission and nothing that would destroy the counselor-client privilege. But she knows she is looking for some dirt to sell and that does not make her happy with the situation.

Once Jane arrives, she finds things worse than she thought. The house is a mess with lots of clutter including doll collections, old magazines and enough paraphernalia from Lenny's life of sports to open a hardware store. Lenny is surly, cantankerous and carrying a shotgun...and those are his positive attributes. Needless to say, after negotiations begin, Lenny agrees to let Jane stay and she agrees to stay. But things are anything but rosy. And there are complications galore on the way to Lenny's improved mental health, including mutual attraction.

This tale is slow and conventional. As soon as Jane decides not to mention the Sidelined story, the reader knows that no matter what happens between now and then, Lenny will find out and it will create a rift in their relationship. I found myself skimming because the banter between these two was just too predictable. There is some sexual tension, but it is clouded by the arguing and manipulations that both of these two use to "get to know each other." Most of their conversations involve a small revelation then a follow-up question. Lenny would then wonder suspiciously why she wanted to know, at which point she would remind him why they were even there and then more antics would evolve.

The ex-wives all live around the small town in Arkansas and all put in an appearance. Bertie's presence in the house and Lenny's issues with her death make her almost feel like a real person, not a dead grandmother. There are a few other characters from town who also fill in the small home town feeling.

Because of Jane just couldn't hold my attention. I found myself looking ahead to see if I had guessed right. The ending is not surprising and actually is more a retelling of the end versus seeing it in the here and now. Lenny is saved and they do grow to love each other. But for me, Because of Jane is a tepid love story filled with angst filled therapy session after therapy session.

--Shirley Lyons


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