November 11, 2010

Ain't Misbehaving by Jennifer Greene

Ain't Misbehaving

Jennifer Greene

Grade: C+

When a book by Jennifer Greene showed up in the database for Carina Press, I was surprised; why would a highly established author be writing new material for the digital-only imprint of Harlequin? Because I've enjoyed her in the past - and will never forget that she wrote a Desert Isle Keeper review for me at All About Romance of the classic novel Mrs. Mike - I requested a copy. After downloading it to my Kindle and opening it, however, I realized it was not a new book. Instead it was a book written by Greene as Jeanne Grant, originally published in 1985 by Berkley books. According to an author's letter prefacing the book, Carina Press will be reissuing two of her Jeanne Grant books each month for several months, just about as originally published, albeit without "a few outdated phrases and references." I think Greene's Carina Press editors succeeded in that area, although a reference to a " $500 Savile Row suit" stuck out like a sore thumb.

Both Mitch Cochran and Kay Sanders volunteer in the children's ward of a hospital in small-town Idaho. Each volunteers as payback for previous long-term medical care - her on behalf of her sister, a long-time Crohn's sufferer and him after an infection at age 15 weakened his heart and eventually resulted in multiple valve surgeries that caused him to miss out on much of what young men experience as they mature, including sex. As soon as I read between those lines, I hopped over to AAR's Virginal Heroes list and, sure enough, Mitch Cochran is listed.

Mitch and Kay share a strong attraction, but he worries that his lack of experience will be a problem for a woman who teaches sex-ed, has been engaged twice, and counts as close friends many men. Kay can't quite understand why Mitch runs so hot and cold...he'll kiss her like she's the best thing he ever tasted, but the next moment he'll pull back and disappear. Even when they become close enough that he introduces her to his parents, he won't reveal his secrets, nor will he take things to the next level. She eventually resorts to subterfuge, and once he catches on to her, they become fully intimate. Each professes their love, and that's where the trouble begins.

Kay becomes convinced that, like some of her girlish high school students, Mitch mistakes sex with love while he concludes that he must not measure up to her previous lovers. Although a five-minute conversation might have resolved their issues, this is a romance novel from the 1980s, after all, and these two otherwise mature adults revert to adolescence in how they deal with each other. Because this is a romance novel, though, I don't have to tell you how it all ends up.

I've enjoyed the author over the years, although the rather idiosyncratic writing stye she developed since the 1980s barely registers here. My guess is that Ain't Misbehaving became a fan favorite at the time of its release mostly for the virgin hero angle, which continues to be a draw for readers to this day...hence the fact that we developed a list for them at AAR way back in 1997. If that intrigues you, or if you want to flesh out your backlist for the author - and I'm glad that's becoming easier to do now that e-books are the only growth market in pubilshing - check it out, but if you'd like to try Jennifer Greene, I'd recommend starting instead with Rock Solid, Wild in the Field, or Wild in the Moment. I enjoyed this trip down memory lane with Jennifer Greene, who always writes engagingly and with panache, but didn't find this particularly memorable aside from the obvious.

Ain't Misbehaving will be published on November 15th; I read an advance copy provided by the publisher.


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