I just read the cutest book, y'all. A Harlequin Super Romance, A Perfect Stranger, by Terry McLaughlin. I shouldn't have liked it.
First off, the heroine, Sydney, is a teacher who is chaperoning a group of high-schoolers on a European trip. Herding teenagers through museums is SO romantic, don't you think? The hero, Nick, has come along with a different set of kids, helping his teacher brother. He writes pulpy detective stories, and knows his way around France.
McLaughlin handles the requisite kid scenes pretty well, the teens alternately excited and bored and getting caught trying to sneak out at night. The other adults shove Nick and Sydney out for dates, bravely minding the children by themselves. That kind of convenience has always bugged me a little bit; but it's worse when a heroine Mother of the Century suddenly leaves her kid with a neighbor for tea and crumpets with a guy she isn't even sure she likes.
Plus, Sydney is sort of engaged to a nice guy back home. He isn't a jerk, he's not a stiff, he's just...wrong. He has his own fling with a girl from the wrong side of the tracks while Sydney's in Europe, and that sort of thing usually turns me off completely. I'm into monogomy. But this wrong-track girl is really cute and sweet and...you can probably see where this is going.
And finally, the trip is set exclusively in Paris. I know Paris is supposed to be the most romantic city in the world, and it may be. I've never had the opportunity to go. But the lands that capture my imagination tend to be of the Scottish Highland variety- Paris has never made my heart go pitty-pat. With all these nit-picky things, I shouldn't have liked this book, right?
Except for stuff like this: "And yet, she'd wanted this- this memory, this moment in Montmartre. She'd wanted to blend with the lovers surrounding them on the steps of Sacre-Coeur, to step into this impressionist canvas of Paris on a summer evening, to be part of the beauty and the romance. A kiss from a handsome, mysterious man would make it all perfect. Perfect. His lips brushed softly, so softly against hers, once, twice, seeking permission for more, and then she floated into the scene and pressed against him, sliding into his arms, sinking into this fantasy of a romance, kissing a rogue from a storybook, taking her chance at a perfect moment to treasure forever. "
The most cynical, jaded beyotch in the world would swoon at that. McLaughlin has several moments like that in the book, and I appreciated that she might not have all the details I'd like, but she knew what made me tick. This guy is absolutely right-
The chicks LOVE that romantic crap.