The title: Slow Hands
The author: Leslie Kelly
Publication: Harlequin Blaze, 2008
Got it from: eHarlequin.com
Remember when I downloaded all those free Harlequins and I promised you reviews? Well, the time has come!
Many people do not like Harlequins. They say they don't get enough book for their buck. Or that the characters are just caricatures and there's no time for personality development.
Being someone who cares about quality rather than quantity, I don't care about the first one. As for the second one, I say judge each author individually rather than a whole publishing company.
Besides, the book was free! What am I going to do, demand my non-existent money back?
I am here to say that this book rocked my socks. Despite being a "dreaded" Harlequin and a contemporary, which I don't normally read, I couldn't put it down. ("It" being my laptop, which I had to balance on my lap while reading, which gave me a pain in my neck). Leslie Kelly is freaking hilarious. I found myself genuinely laughing out loud at several points. Me, the stone-faced reader whose general inclination is to hurl books at walls.
This book had two of my favourite plot elements: mistaken identity and bachelor auctions. I love a good bachelor auction story. Especially when you put some shy, skittish dude on the auction block, it's gold. It's right up there on my top ten list of favourite romance novel plot elements.
MY TOP TEN FAVOURITE ROMANCE PLOT ELEMENTS (IN NO ORDER):
Twins who switch places to fool the ones they love, with hilarious results
Heroines who think they love someone else, but really love their hot best male friend
Brothers who bet their sisters while playing poker
Bachelor auctions*** see, there it is!
Nerdy guys being dragged on adventures with hoydens
Ones where the heroine falls in love with her stableboy
"That hot guy I fell for turned out to be my husband!?"
Coming soon, I will compile a list of my top ten least favourite romantic elements. For now, I will concentrate on the good stuff.
The curtains open on two photographer sisters who've completely screwed up the bachelor auction brochures by messing up the pictures and the bios of the bachelors. They've sorted everyone except two: one's a paramedic and one's a gigolo.
Gee, can you guess how it's all going to go down?
Yep, frosty-but-buxom Maddy heads to the bachelor auction to stop her cougar stepmother and stepmother's friends from humiliating her father by bidding on Mr. Gigolo. So she outbids them all. Of course, Jake's not a gigolo, he's a paramedic. She doesn't figure out the truth until near the end, and he finally clues in about halfway through what she really thinks he is.
I don't think this book would have worked so well if the two main characters hadn't been so likable. Jake's a genuinely nice guy, not just a cardboard nice guy. I loved him from the start when he's backstage waiting to be auctioned off. Listen to his inner dialogue when he's trying to justify being auctioned off for a children's charity:
"Right. Good cause. Kids. I like kids. Don't have any, don't really want any for a few more years, but they're cute in a long-distance way. As long as they're not sticking raisins up their noses or falling down sewer drains or following the family cat up a tree.
Okay, so maybe he didn't like kids so much. Not enough to go through this humiliation." (p.17)
Leslie Kelly keeps the zingers and one-liners going throughout the books. The puns, they come fast and furious. The passage where Maddy remembers her cheating ex-boyfriend is particularly memorable in the hilarious department:
"That Roddy had been a nickname for Rhonda, a twenty-year-old ski bunny, had been something he'd failed to mention. Maddy had found out the hard way when she'd decided to surprise him one weekend. She'd found him in his room, engaging in some serious downhill action with the snow ho.
There were no skis involved, but his pole had been getting quite a workout." (p.44).
Memo to romance writers: put more hilarious in your books, with lots of puns! See above paragraph for example. That is all.
I don't want to say too much more about this book, because I think you should go download it from Harlequin and read it yourself. The characters are funny and sweet, the story moves along nicely and even the cliches are enjoyable.
I'll only add one more thing: I just found out there's a sequel. It's about the woman who thought she bought the paramedic, but - surprise!- he's the gigolo.