Racy romance novels are making a comeback into the mainstream, thanks, in part, to the phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Gray.
The landscape may be a little edgier than the days when Fabio adorned the covers of Harlequin romances, but the quality for the genre remains mostly substandard.
One of the few exceptions is Julia Dumont’s Starstruck Romance and Other Hollywood Tails, which strikes an intelligent balance between titillating exploits and well-rounded character development.
Heavy on humor and sharp detail, Starstruck Romance has the gravitas and honesty that is reminiscent of a top notch “Sex and the City” episode.
The story, which is part of the “Second Acts” series, revolves around the busy life of Cynthia Amas, who owns and operates a high class dating service. Unable to find romance for herself, she has become adept at matchmaking for friends and strangers alike.
In this tale, Cynthia’s personal life gets complicated when she takes on a famous A-list actor, Jack Stone, as a client. He wants a woman who is not after him for his celebrity status, and it turns out that Cynthia might be that someone. But Cynthia is torn between the chance at dating a star and the possibility of rekindling an old romance with musician Pete Blatt.
Dumont’s world is loaded with other intriguing people, in particular Cynthia’s best friend and dog whisperer Lolita Albion. Her comical mess of a life provides some of the book’s best humor, highlighted by a raunchy ride on a scooter with Cynthia’s sometime lover Max.
Dumont shows remarkable detail when it comes to theLos Angeleslandscape. Her use of real locations and insider info will be fun for locals, and fascinating to outsiders. Also, her quick wit and ability to keep the story moving means there are no dull moments throughout the 160 page novel.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a romance novel without the love scenes, and there are several steamy ones. There is definitely an art form to using graphic language and strong sexual situations without sounding smutty or pedestrian. Dumont knows exactly how far to push the envelope. She gradually draws readers in with tenderness, and builds to the kind of scene that romance readers expect.
Starstruck Romance is fun-filled and lighthearted escapism that delivers laughs AND passion.