I admit it, I have kind of bias against contemporary romance novels. For one, they can be a bit, I don’t know, dated in a way that historical novels aren’t. Also, let’s be honest, there tends to be less fodder for humor in contemporary romances. A lot of the heroines have their own things going on, they tend to be smart and independent and there’s a lot less pussy-footing around the Sex Question than there is in the historical novels (the answer is YES). Though, of course, Judith McNaught is the exception here…
Anyway, my latest read, Dangerous Curves, is set in the 2000′s, the copyright date says 2005 so let’s go with that. Our heroine, Cece, is a hot FBI agent who’s been assigned to a case involving the maybe-murder of a NASCAR driver. Our hero, Blain (I want to call him Plain, but of course he’s not plain, he’s super super hot, he just has a silly name), is a hot race car team owner and it was his driver (and best friend) who was killed. They also have history – they knew each other growing up and Cece was hot hot hot for him back then but was sort of desperate about it and he made it clear (in the gentle, tender way that teenage boys do) that he wasn’t interested. And they raced their cars and she WON, but didn’t get to enjoy it because her dad died and she had to sell the car to help her mom pay the bills and then her mom died too and her life was just really sad, just absolutely terrible. So, pretty much, Blain is all, I heard you’re good and I want you on this case, and she’s all, I hate you and there’s no way I’m taking this case. Until, of course, she does take the case.
Blain (he also makes me think of Blais, as in Richard Blais of Top Chef, which makes me think he has silly hair in addition to his silly name) is your typical tortured guy, so haunted by his friend’s death, so emotionally shut down. Boo hoo hoooooo, I say. Cece is hilarious and has the hots for Blain all over again, but she also tries desperately to get him to smile and laugh. I mean, she doesn’t try, it just happens, she makes him smile and laugh and that’s how we know that they’re destined to be together. Obviously.
Anyway, blah blah blah, investigation, blah blah blah, probably not an accident, blah blah blah conflicted feelings, blah. They have one hot kiss and then Cece freaks out and goes home, BUT THEN they need her back on the case so she goes back. And she’s supposed to meet him in her hotel lobby but he can’t wait so he goes up to her room and she’s like, look, I’m not going to stay on this case, I’m going to quit and go home again, and he’s like, oh okay, so…let’s have sex. And she says, direct quote, “TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS.” That’s my girl!
There follows the absolute hottest shower sex scene I’ve ever read…holy moly. Like, wow. WOW. They don’t actually do it-do it, it’s, ah, digital, so here’s hoping when the DOING IT gets done it’s as hot/hotter than the first time. Because wow. Did I mention wow? Wow.
Afterward, she all but throws him out (oh, Cece), and then someone delivers flowers to her room. And she’s all, aww Blain, soooo adorable…except…hey, are these flowers TICKING? It’s a bomb! And you know what that means? Well, it means that now Cece has to go live at Blain’s house to “keep him safe” and “continue her investigation” and “engage in lewd sexual acts.” I’m just saying.
So at the house, he’s all, let’s get naked, and she’s all, zip your pants jerkwad we’re under surveillance. Of course their next tryst begins, as it so often does, with video games – a racing simulation, to be precise, and a wager. He bets her “dinner,” but it’s revealed (when he wins) that what he really meant was “hot hot naked sexytimes.” They begin to engage, but then he starts going on about how doesn’t want to have SEX he wants to MAKE LOVE and he says it so many times that it starts to get a little creepy (Cece and I both thought so) so she puts an end to that nonsense and abandons him. Naturally he stomps after her to demand an explanation and her explanation is thus: I LIKE MY JOB AND MY JOB IS HARD AND SOMETIMES THIS JOB IS HARD ON OTHER PEOPLE AND I AM ALL ALONE WHICH IS HOW I LIKE IT AND ALSO IF WE GOT INVOLVED I WOULD HURT YOU. Blain insists that he’s willing to take on the risk, but she’s all, NOOOOOOO IMPOSSIBLE. And then they shake hands and agree very dramatically to be Just Friends.
Blah blah blah…more stuff happens…investigations…blah blah…bombs going off…big yellow Hummer…blah blah blah. Then they’re in town for another race and they end up having to share a hotel suite (well, she technically has her own, but who would stay alone in a hotel room when there’s a burning hot hunka man in the other room, I ask you?) and they totally do it. THEY DO IT. It gets done. It’s not quite as hot as the shower scene (I mean, really? On a bed? How drab and normal!) but the point is: sex happens. And here the plot gets sort of muddy…things happen…all the men are big sexist jerks and treat her like a secretary (she has a GUN, boys!)…she makes some inopportune comments…she gets suspended, yadda yadda, etc, etc. AND THEN SHE SOLVES THE CASE.
The thing about mysteries that (I think) makes them really hard to write is you have to weave a very careful story so that the reader’s AH HA! moment isn’t too soon or too late, the “whodunnit?” has to make sense in retrospect. Well, Pamela Britton’s answer to “whodunnit?” is NOBODY YOU’VE EVER HEARD OF, SUCKER! Which, sure, is sort of a lazy cop-out but is also kind of genius because a) no careful weaving required and b) none of the secondary characters we’ve come to know and love turn out to be killers. So that’s nice. I won’t ruin the surprise because it’s too hilarious to miss, but it involves a rocket launcher. Seriously, have you bought this book yet? Did I mention that shower scene????
Anyway, in the chaos Cece is VERY! BADLY! INJURED! and she goes back to Blain’s house to recover…in a wheelchair…because her legs were blown off by rockets. No, I’m kidding, she’s only paralyzed. But Blain is sort of weirded out by the whole “do her lady parts still work?” issue and she demands that he sex her but he won’t so she goes back home to San Francisco. What a JERK, am I right?! She mostly mopes around her apartment feeling sorry for herself – and there is a sweet scene where her friends kidnap her and force her to do some therapeutic (horseback) riding, awww, ponies – and then she gets a call from one of the NASCAR dudes and he’s all, watch the TV, blah blah. So she does and it’s BLAIN, pouring his heart out about their whole love affair and how bad he messed up and how much he misses her.
Aw, shucks. So of course she runs…er…wheels back to him and they have so much sex that she’s able to walk again. It’s not explicit that that’s the reason but something about physical therapy is mentioned so I’m assuming that means lots and lots of doin’ it. Anyway, she WALKS down the aisle and then, whodathunkit, surprises HIM on national TV with news of a little implanted fetus. Oh, stupid babies. Always ruining a good love story.
And that’s the story of Blain and Cece and how sex saved her life. Or something, whatever. Blah blah blah, details, blah. Hey, have I told you about a certain shower scene…?