The premise for this book is intriguing. A different kind of heroine. A bit of a mystery. And two people who are equally determined not to fall in love.

Melodye Carter designs clothes for plus-sized women, a business that has consumed her since her husband was killed two years ago. Being a bit on the plump side, Melodye knows that larger women appreciate fine clothes as much as rail-thin models do. And losing herself in work helps her stay focused in the present.

When the cold case is opened again, the detective assigned to the case is Jim Ryman, a former high school sweetheart.

Because this is a romance novel, it is a given that old attractions find new life when Jim interviews Melodye regarding the case. Throw into the mix two precocious children, Melodye’s pre-school twins, and there is the making of a decent story. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t live up to the premise.

Since I am not a huge fan of romance novels, I tried to ignore the annoying little things that kept jerking me out of the story. Things like the sparks flying the minute the two characters see each other. It’s not like they are still teenagers with raging hormones, and he was there on official business. Then there’s the fact that the romantic angle is part of every scene, even when they are together talking to her late-husband’s business partner. In some ways it seemed like the titillation was the only part of the story worth spending a lot of words on.

I know that there are certain expectations that an avid fan of romance novels has, and there are guidelines from the publishers of category romance that can be pretty strict. Sexual tension has to be strong throughout. Sex scenes are often very graphic, and in some cases there are a required number of sex scenes per story.

In the hands of some of the top romance authors, those expectations and guidelines are seamlessly woven into a strong story with characters that are endearing for more than their sexuality. I have enjoyed the work of Sandra Brown,
Fayrene Preston,  Nora Roberts, 
  and Laura Parker, so it is not like I came into this read without any basis for comparison. And because Ms. Craft has published 22 previous books, I was expecting something at least close to that expertise. It’s too bad the writing didn’t measure up to those standards.

Designed For Passion is available nationwide where books are sold and online at Eharlequin.com, Amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble.com

Designed for Passion
Francine Craft
ISBN: 978-0373860579
Publisher: Kimani Press
Release Date: March 2008
S.R.P.: $5.99

Maryann Miller – Maryann’s Blog

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