The Trouble with Harry (*****)
by Katie MacAlister
A couple of weeks ago I read and wrote a not-so-glowing review of a Katie MacAlister novel. I didn't hate it, but there was enough to annoy me that I had a hard time enjoying the story. I say this here because I'm now reviewing another of her books, The Trouble with Harry. Why would I read another of her books if I wasn't fond of the last one? Well, I had to - I guess that's what happens when you're in a book group :)
Ok, confession time. I like romances. Not for the dirty, but because they're so much more fun than literary fiction, even other genres. So I go for the romance, whether it's the inspirational titles I devoured in my teens; historicals, contemporaries, or paranormals; or the YA that I've taken up a few years after I left that target audience. My favorite authors write with a sense of humor, their characters are loveable, and the plots are entertaining. When I watch TV, movies, or read a book, I'm looking to be entertained; I have no desire to read or watch anything that's going to bum me out. So yeah, I read romances.
Back to the book. I liked this one a lot better than MacAlister's A Girl's Guide to Vampires. Here you have a 45-year-old man with five little hellions in need of a mother and a 40-year-old woman who really wants a family, but has been kept from having one due to a scandal in her youth. I liked the fact that MacAlister broke away from the norm - a 40-year-old heroine in a Regency? So much better than a 17-year-old. Seriously. This book really could have stood alone on the hero's (Harry) and heroine's (Plum) time getting to know each other and Plum's attempt to get to know and love the little "diablitos," but we end up with two other conflicts - one for each of them. For Harry, his baddy-plot carried throughout the story, but the reader never even meets the baddy until the end of the story, followed quickly by a resolution. Plum's baddy-plot had a bit more umph, and I enjoyed Plum's reaction to and solution to said plot. Her solutions were a little ridiculous, but funny, so I can get on board with that. I also appreciated Plum's mother-bear reactions - no one was going to threaten her family; she wasn't going to sit by and wimper to her man to fix the problem whilst she clutched her handkerchief in fear.
There was one other main part of the plot that I didn't care for. As I mentioned earlier, I don't read these books for the dirty, and frankly, this one had a bit too much. Part of Plum's problem (and this isn't a spoiler, it's revealed in the first few pages) is that she wrote a book that sounds a lot like the Kama Sutra. And a LOT of time was spent describing how Harry and Plum enacted certain scenes from her book. Serious overkill on the part of the author. I don't know if this is her M.O., since I've only read two of her books. Maybe she was trying to show that a hero and heroine in their 40s could make a hot couple (to which I say, duh) and overcompensated. Or maybe none of the above. I don't know; all I know is that she passed the squirmy, uncomfortable line by a couple of feet.
MacAlister hasn't made it onto my list of favorite authors, but I still found this book to be enjoyable, and a big improvement over the last book of her's that I read.