I don't typically tend to read a whole lot of contemporary romance because I'n not a huge fan of paranormal elements nor of a thriller-ish plotline and those two things seem to be dominating the current contemporary romance releases. I prefer fun and humor with my happily ever afters. So I don't know how long I've had this book sitting around the house unread, but after skimming the back cover copy, I decided it would suit my mood and fit the very narrow personal guidelines I have for books in the genre.
Set in New Orleans, this is the story of a former child actor turned director shooting a movie in the famed Red Light District and the history professor hired to ensure the historical accuracy and integrity of the movie. Given Zack's willingness to sacrifice accuracy for explosions and chase scenes and the like to make his movie, at base a love story, appealing to both male and female audiences, he and Kate are destined to butt heads and often. Both characters have a huge stake in the movie. Zack's last few pictures have failed and this is his last shot at directorial success. Kate is up for tenure but the department chair doesn't like her and thinks her historical focus is soft and unacademic so her professional credence is on the line with the movie. Tension between the characters is high as they both fight for their professional lives. But as they learn to accomodate each other, the movie starts to pull together and so does their relationship at least until the more underlying issues start to eat at them. There is a subplot here with Kate's mother having anxiety attacks and agoraphobia traced back to the early death of Kate's father and the way that it affects her own potential relationship with a cameraman on the movie. The other major subplot deals with Kate's teenaged daughter and the deadbeat father she's never known.
The characters here are entertaining and watching them open themselves up to each other is fun. Wells throws in small bits of humor, like with the script writer who may just throw a tantrum once Kate finishes slashing through his screenplay, excising the historical anachronisms, which helps lighten the book. Perhaps too many plot lines swirling around, the subplots were handled a bit cursorily but as the bulk of the book is the development of Kate and Zack's relationship, this is merely a blip. The tidbits about New Orleans' Red Light District are welcome and I personally would have enjoyed hearing more but that might have derailed the plot too much. Overall a good story with just the right amount of conflict culminating in the necessary happily ever after. A good choice for contemporary romance fans.