Girls Night by Stef Ann Holm

Girls Night by Stef Ann Holm

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Mass market, 377 pages, 2002

Rating: 7/10

Reason for Reading: Harlequin sent me this one for filling out a survey, and who am I to turn down a free book?

Synopsis: When Jillene McDermott’s husband died, he left her with two pre-teen daughters and a coffee shop business that he never told her was dangerously close to going under. Scrambling to pay bills and look after her daughters, Jillene thinks she can’t be bothered with love, especially with all the tongues it would set wagging in their small town. But when hometown hero Vince Tremonti – a crime writer with a hidden dark side – turns up, she finds she’s struggling to repress her attraction to him.

Why you should read this book: Girls Night is a cute romance novel, nothing out of the ordinary. But when has a “mysterious bad-boy persuing a reluctant-but-intrigued good girl” story failed to pull an audience in the genre? There’s a number of interesting threads keeping the story going, like the daughters trying to adjust to not being able to afford things like pizza nights and new clothes, Vince’s father trying to start a romance of his own, and a pushy woman with her eye on rekindling a high school fling with Vince.

Why you should avoid this book: Breasts, nipples, breasts. You expect it from most romance novels. But when it gets into describing Jillene’s 12-year-old daughter, it gets kinda creepy. Every dip into the male characters’ minds is just potential for more cleavage-talk.
Holm set up a big chance to add some needed suspense with Vince’s career and dark secret, but never really bothered to work with it, so you might feel a little cheated if you were expecting a little more action (of the non-bedroom variety).

Opening paragraph:

All Jillene McDermott wanted was a little breathing room and the only place she could find it was in the bathtub.
Even though she wouldn’t be lucky enough to have the tub all to herself before the bubbles went flat and the water cooled, she’d take every minute she could get.

Fabulous quotes:

I Need Some Fun! Seeking a boyfriend who is full of fun. He has to love dogs and the beach. I’m 38 and have a really cute figure. I also have two daughters who are pretty and popular and like shopping at Nordstrom. You have to have a good personality and not be afraid to make a commitment. 206-555-3958. Ask for Jillene.
It all made perfect sense to Faye, and she was certain that by this weekend her mom would be getting a lot of calls. This would make her happy. She’d been so sad since Dad died.
Once, through a crack in her mom’s bedroom door, Faye had seen her, Dad’s Mariners T-shirt against her nose. She was sniffling and her shoulders shook. She had some pictures and envelopes on the bed quilt. Faye thought they looked like Christmas ones.
Even Sugar moped around without Dad. She didn’t have anyone to play really good tug-of-war with because there weren’t any super-big tube socks in the house anymore. Her dad had had huge feet and wore huge socks from J.C. Penny. It had been funny to watch Sugar tear up the old socks when Dad got her all worked up.
On that thought, Faye wrote just in front of their phone number: Must have big feet.

‘I must have been shielding myself with my arm because the slug nailed me in the left hand. I dropped on the floor to dodge the next round and I thought to myself-‘ He bit off the words in midsentence. ‘Let’s just say I wasn’t too happy about what had just happened to me.
‘The perp is in my house now and I hear the front door slamming into the wall. I’m lunging for the counter and my life, but a bang goes off and I feel like I’ve just been kicked by a horse. I’m on the floor again. I’d been shot at point-blank range in the back.’
‘Oh my God.’ Jillene touched his sleeve, the cotton fabric warm from his skin.
‘Anyway,’ he said in an easygoing tone, though it had to be a very hard thing for him to recall. ‘It was a morning I’ll never forget.’ With the yellow haze of a street-lamp high over his shoulder, he glanced her way. ‘Hell, you don’t want to hear about this.’

Also recommended: Full Tilt by Janet Evanovich; Lola Carlyle Reveals All by Rachel Gibson.

Also by this author: Lucy Gets Her Life Back; Leaving Normal; Pink Moon; Undressed; The Runaway Heiress; Hearts; Honey; Hooked; Harmony; Upon a Midnight; Forget Me Not; Portraits; Crossings; Weeping Angel; Snowbird; King of Pirates; Liberty Rose; Seasons of Gold; Firefly; Silver Desires.

Author’s website:

Fun tidbit: Girls Night was Holm’s first foray into contemporary romance – her previous sixteen books were historical romance.

© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007

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