We all have them, and I have a few in Romance. This is one of the guiltier ones.
Any Way You Want It by Kathy Love.
I've reviewed her contemporary stories before, the Stepp Sisters, and came away with mixed feelings about the trio, absolutely loving the first one, okay with the second, and disastrous with the third. But this is about the first book in one of her paranormal series about three friends, two of which end up with brothers.
Maggie Gallagher is spending a nice vacation in the Big Easy with her friends, Erika and Jo. The shyest of the bunch, Maggie and Co. are enjoying their time together when Maggie is arrested by a melody that nobody is supposed to know. As an authenticator of classical music for the Smithsonian, Maggie recognizes the few bars of a piano melody written by a composer back in the 18 century.
Having just indulged a whim to stroke a few keys of a old piece of music that he had written back when he was just a mere mortal, Ren Anthony is instantly attracted to the small curvy strawberry blonde who has stopped to listen to the live music. Living as an ex-composer who now is the frontman for an immortal cover band, Ren is an auto-pilot musician these days. He just plays to pay the bills.
As a special kind of vampire, a lampir, he survives and feeds off human energy instead of blood. Having believed since his rebirth that he was cursed by his mother, he knows that he shouldn't get involved with Maggie, but can't resist her unique blend of innocence and natural sensuality. Agreeing to a vacation fling, Maggie and Ren explore each other while mutually loosing their hearts as well.
Why is this one of my guiltiest pleasures? For one thing, it's super sweet. Like, send-you-into-a-diabetic-coma sweet. Like most heroines who are shy, they're accompanied by a little issues of body image. While Ren thinks her slight curves are delectable, Maggie has been told they're more than chubby by her ex-finance. Ren takes each and every opportunity to rid Maggie of that misconception and it's so sweet, it'll give you cavities.
But I love it. When I'm in the mood for a hero that's protective and sweet, Ren is my go to guy.
Another reason for guilt inspiring reading? The plot. It's very light. As in, there could've been so much more layered on for a sturdy story. First of all, Ren believes he's cursed. Having been through two failed love affairs, he thinks that his mother has cursed him in the love department. This wasn't covered at all. There's mentions of his past lovers, but you're given scant more information than just their names. One of them, the opera singer, seemed to play a large part in Ren's belief that he was cursed but there was little to no information about that part of his life.
The conclusion is another point of weakness. In an effort to push away Maggie, thinking that he's ultimately saving her life, he does the unthinkable for a Romance alpha hero. He engages intimately with another woman. Yes, we know it's all in an effort to "do the right thing for Maggie" but it's still a little off-putting. In a previous post, I've mentioned that being with another person once the hero/heroine have been together and established is one of the cardinal sins not to be committed in a Romance. Some authors, like I've said before, dare to venture into that forbidden territory, but few make it out alive. And yes, Ren commits this sin.
With all that said, there is something just so sweet (that one word can sum up Ren and Maggie) about this book. The characters aren't the strongest, the plot is minimal at best (more like a collection of day-to-day activity scenes), and the ending is rushed for the sake of an ending. But still, I consider it an occasional reread because I just can't resist this guilty pleasure.