Monday, May 12, 2008

Perfect Timing by Barbara Elsborg

TITLE: Perfect Timing
AUTHOR: Barbara Elsborg
PUBLISHER: Ellora’s Cave
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 57k)
GENRE: Contemporary erotic romance
COST: $5.95

Daisy Leaf decides to try something new in meeting men – a murder mystery weekend at a stately hotel north of London. There’s only problem. She’s misread the information. Instead of a sixties theme, it’s an over-sixties weekend. All her hippy attire does is catch the attention of the sexy hotel manager, Jake Weston. Of course, it doesn’t help that she’s tangled up in a sheep when they first meet…

I don’t buy a lot of romantic comedy books. Humor is so subjective. What’s funny to one person isn’t to another, and it often feels like an author is trying too hard when it comes to this particular genre. My yardstick is the excerpt. In the case of Perfect Timing, I chuckled – genuinely so – so often during reading the excerpt, I knew I had to buy it.

I wasn’t disappointed. The book is zingy and charming, with both hero and heroine having the quick wit to keep up with the other. This isn’t a case of just one of the leads being stuck into humorous situations, though that certainly happens. It’s an example of two characters with a sharp sense of timing and the ability to get zingers out without batting an eyelash. Daisy is the stronger of the two, and I suspect Jake comes off as well as he does because he thrives in her presence. They play amazingly well off each other, enough so that when it came time for some of the latter sex scenes, I just wanted these two to put their clothes back on so I could hang out with them in that regard. The humor isn’t just in their banter. Some of the description and actions is even funnier than their dialogue. I was especially tickled by what a life of its own Jake’s anatomy takes on, completely separate to any of his actions.

I don’t mean to imply that the sex scenes don’t work. They do. I don’t think they’re as hot as some others I’ve read, but they certainly hold their own in expanding characterization for these two. But in spite of the plethora of them, it’s not the glue that holds the story together. That honor belongs to Daisy and Jake. While their swiftness to get to the oh my god this is love didn’t ring completely true for me, I liked and enjoyed them so much, I was willing to look past that.

If the story has fault at all, it’s in the less than believable motivations that drive Jake and Daisy. The darker elements of Daisy’s past are easier to accept, though they still seem to stretch the realm of credibility in a world that feels frighteningly real. But Jake’s reasons for keeping Daisy a secret – while well explained – don’t sit as well. He clearly doesn’t like what he’s doing, so I never understood why he stuck it out, especially to the detriment of what he thought was love. Perhaps if there had been interactions with his father and brother earlier on in the story, I might have found it more credible.

All in all, however, this was extremely funny and engaging, with two charming leads and a delightful story. If you read the excerpt and chuckle, I think it’s a safe bet you’ll find the rest of the book just as entertaining.


9/10 – Zippy and often laugh out loud funny, the only time this bogs down is during some of the sex scenes


8/10 – I’m never sold on his motivations, but I’m certainly sold on him.


9/10 – Charming and funny, though her motivations are only slightly stronger than the heroes

Entertainment value

8/10 – I liked these two characters so much, I would have liked to see more of them outside of sex scenes.

World building

8/10 – The hotel itself is nicely realized, but history and a sense of place outside of it falls behind.



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