Sometimes I’m in the mood for a cutesy, unrealistic, contrived story. This sounds like a bad thing, but sometimes those plots are just what you need – and Lori Wilde’s Addicted to Love is one of those stories.
Rachael Henderson is a hopeless romantic who has been left at the altar two times too many. After her second fiancé ditches her mid-ceremony to join the NFL, she exacts her revenge against romance - or, at least, the hometown that made her see the world through rose-colored, heart-shaped glasses: Valentine, TX. A theme town based entirely around romance, hearts, Happily Ever After, and rainbows, Rachael is arrested while painting its signature kissing lips billboard black. And Brody Carlton, the sheriff who arrested her, is none other than the first boy who broke her heart.
Brody has returned to town after a tragic few years. After being trapped in the World Trade Center on 9/11 and watching his friend die, he then joined the army only to have his wife leave him and later lose his leg in battle. However, he’s content with his place in town, and getting used to the small-town life. Though a cynic himself, he’s a bit bothered by Rachael’s gung-ho anti-romance stance. She starts Romanceaholics Anonymous, and develops a 12-step program for people who are addicted to love. This bold move, in a town based on the idyllic notion of love, is obviously contentious, and the town is pitted against each other and caught up in a dramatic mayoral election surrounding the town’s tradition. While she’s defending her program and criticizing the town, Rachael is having a hard time sticking to her own rules as she finds herself falling for Brody.
This is one of those books that you can’t really picture happening in real life. I’m pretty sure theme towns, as found in this and other books, don’t actually exist, but they do make a cute backdrop. While Brody and Rachael’s romance is lovely and believable, the rest of the book may induce a dozen or two eye-rolls.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. It's a cute story, despite its occasional ridiculousness. The characters are certainly colorful, and there are two side romances that, for the most part, work. Brody’s story is the one major exception to the light-heartedness of the story. It’s obviously unusual to have an amputee as a hero, but Ms. Wilde makes it work and his concerns, fears, and insecurities all felt very real to me. I also loved how he approached his feelings for Rachael, though a few times there were emotional epiphanies that were downplayed or eliminated entirely, making me wonder when and why he fell in love with her. Rachael is a good character too, funny and sympathetic and she stays just on this side of over-the-top, so she's a bit outrageous sometimes while still being relatable.
Your opinion of this book will likely be influenced by what you are looking for. If you want a fun, light-hearted romp, this book is one to look at – but if you’re looking for a story grounded in reality with complex characters, you might want to skip this one.
-- Jane Granville
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