Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Not Another Bad Date by Rachel Gibson *****

A RE-READ ON AUDIO (notes at the end) FEB 2010 first read June 2008

Funny, I was reading Devil's Bride by Stephanie Laurens, but had to make a trip to town where I found Not Another Bad Date by Rachel Gibson at Wal Mart. Then, on the way home, the van broke down and we had to wait 1.5 hours for AAA - so I picked up the Gibson book and couldn't put it down!

It sure was more fun to read than Devil's Bride has been so far...

Not Another Bad Date is the 4th in the Author Friends series. I've read books 2 (I'm In No Mood for Love) and 3 - (Tangled Up in You) and liked both a lot. The last author in the series is Adele - the one whose boyfriend Dwayne has become a semi-stalker, leaving bits and pieces of their lives together on her doorstep the past 3 years since they broke up. Apparently he was a great boyfriend until he suddenly told her she had a fat ass, and that abruptly ended the relationship.

And since then, every date she's gone on has been bad, bad, bad. Sometimes it will be good - right up to the door, and them WHAM-O he'll say something stupid, like the Fat Ass remark and it's over.

Now - to be perfectly honest - every time the Fat Ass thing was mentioned in Books 2 and 3 I thought, how shallow can this woman be? In fact, to be really, completely honest, it just dawned on me as I wrote the comment a couple of paragraphs above that it was part of a pattern. A pattern I just caught on to. A pattern that is the very structure and raison d'etre of this book. (duh)

See, Devon Hamilton-Zemaitis had just been killed in a car accident. She's waiting in line at the Pearly Gates to see St. Peter when she's introduced to a former (also dead) teacher who tells her she has a chance to earn her wings, as it were. In a matter of speaking. She hasn't exactly qualified - yet - for Heaven. She has an issue or two that need, well, clearing up. She is told she can give a gift to someone (read: Adele) to make up for her past transgressions - so she does. But it isn't exactly something nice.

Zach Zemaitis is the widower left behind with his 10-year-old daughter when Devon dies. Zach and Devon didn't always get along that well - she didn't cotton to moving around the country when Zach got a new job as a pro football player, so she stationed herself in her Texas home town, and let him come visit whenever he had the opportunity.

It's Adele's home town too. She grew up with Devon, and the 2 had a very adversarial relationship from first grade on. Adele was devastated by Zach at University of Texas when he wooed her, took her virginity and then unceremoniously dumped her for Devon. After that, Adele moved in with her grandmother in Boise, Idaho, where she met her other author friends, and has lived there since. But her sister, whose life Adele always thought was blessed, has troubles - she's 6 months pregnant and her husband left her and their 13-year-old daughter for his much-younger assistant. The sister moves back to their home town and asks Adele to come help her out. And then, the sister develops dangerously high blood pressure and must spend the next 3 months in the hospital, so Adele must stay - in the home town - to take care of her sister and niece.

Lemme explain the timeline: it's now 2008. 14 years ago, in 1994, she was at UT with Devon and Zach. Devon died in 2005. Ok, got it? Oh - and Devon and Zach's daughter is also 13 now.

OK - so, it's been three years since Devon died. It's also been three years since Adele broke up with Dwayne and has been having atrociously bad dates. There's a connection here that took me a while to glom onto. Now I've spoiled it for anyone reading, but maybe you'll enjoy the story more knowing there is a connection, if you can just figure it out... (OK, if you read the AAR review, that reviewer comes to the point and gives it away - maybe if I'd read it before I read the book, I would have figured it out sooner. I won't link it - you make up your own mind.)

Adele figures she's cursed. It's not a coincidence, by the way, that Adele writes fantasy - each of the authors gets a little of her own back in her story. Maddie, true crime writer, writes of her mother's murder in Tangled Up In You. Clare, romance writer, gets her true hero in I'm In No Mood For Love. So when Adele meets up with Zach, after trying to dodge him for days - hard to do when her niece is now Zach's daughter's best friend - she gives in to the passion, figuring her Bad Date curse will keep her from developing another relationship with him.

Adele just doesn't know what the true gift Devon gave to her was when given the chance to earn her wings - and Devon has no idea either that sometimes you don't get what you expect when you wish for something! When the first gift doesn't work out the way Devon wants, she gives her another one that is sure to get the job done - except that, once again, it doesn't turn out quite the way she planned. She hadn't counted on one thing: Zach's true feelings for Adele.

OK slight spoiler alert - the gift isn't spelled out at first, but it ain't something nice. It takes Devon a while to figure out how to use her gifts to get into Heaven. And when she doesn't do it right, she gets a little taste of her own version of Hell - the first one being having to work at Wal Mart. Heh heh.

Lucky for Devon, she is allowed one more gift at the end to earn her way to her own idea of Heaven. Although I first balked at the epilogue being about Devon, and not about Zach and Adele, after reading it I laughed out loud - it was PERFECT! And now I'm wondering if Devon played any part in my having picked up the book and being forced to read it after the van broke down...

It was a truly fun ride, and Zach and Adele were terrific in their roles of hero and heroine. Zach was an alpha hero with heart - he almost qualified for beta status as the Nice Guy. Adele was gutsy without having any of those annoying feisty heroine traits - she knows her own mind, and sticks to her guns for all the right reasons. And might I add that Gibson can write a hot scene when she's on her game, which seems to be consistently on! 5 stars.

AUDIO VERSION - I was happy to find this and Tangled Up In You on audio at audible.com and glommed the 2 - if only they'd done all 4! The narrator, Nicole Poole, is a wonderful new find for me! There are complaints in the reviews at audible.com - the sound of her sucking in a breath is pretty loud and sort of annoying at first. I quickly got over it because she is really a great narrator - her voices and accents are wonderful and distinct, and I found myself thinking of Anna Fields as she read. OK, she's not really as good an actor as Anna Fields (aka Kate Fleming) or Barbara Rosenblat or Davina Porter - but she's a close second behind that group of talented narrator/actors. I searched her books on audible - she also read Coming Undone by Susan Andersen (whose style is similar to Gibson), but I wasn't that crazy about that book when I read it (the 4th in a series) so I dunno if I'll get it or not. I will look for her narrations, though, cuz she was good! She definitely gets 5 stars on her own merit, in my book!

1 comment:

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