Lucky in Love, by Laurien Berenson, was published in 1989. I found it at a used bookstore in the 3 for $1 pile, and I’ll be contributing it to the laundry room library. It is from the Harlequin Temptation imprint, which, according to RomanceWiki, was introduced in 1984 to present more realistic stories. The Temptation imprint ended in 2005, but lives on in the Blaze imprint. Blaze was originally a hotter line in the Temptation imprint.
Lucky in Love lives up the imprint’s mission of contemporary characters and stories. Lucky, age thirty, has done her share of dating, hasn’t met Mr. Right, and is not that worried about it. She lives in a small Pennsylvania town and runs a successful used car dealership. At least, it was successful, until Sam Donohue set up a luxury import dealership next door and scared away her customers with his high chain link fence and dogs. She fights back with a TV commercial to remind folks she’s still offering economical transportation, and the battle is on.
Sam and Lucky met when he first set up his lot, but both were too focused on their businesses to follow up on the sparks of mutual attraction. His dislike of her commercial, and her dislike of his response commercial, leads to a few conversations, a dinner date, and hormones take it from there. The obstacles to their relationship are their different backgrounds and approaches to life. Lucky comes from a large family, is involved in the community, and is casual and spontaneous in all things. Sam is an only child, new to town, and his office and condominium both reflect studied luxury.
Lucky is a very strong female character. When Sam’s car breaks down on a date, she’s the one that performs a roadside repair, creating a minor crisis of masculinity for Sam. It’s Lucky that proposes a joint business venture restoring and selling classic cars, and this is a model for their relationship, for better and for worse. They each keep their own business (independence) but have a joint project (marriage, kids, etc.). However, even though they agreed to trust each others’ judgement in the joint venture, the climax is a deal he makes that she did not want.
The book’s flaw is that the character growth is all on Sam’s part. He learns to embrace family chaos, and, inspired by Lucky, he becomes more spontaneous and adventurous. When their values clash, he gives in to hers. All of which is good, but Lucky’s only hurdle seems to be accepting that Sam has changed because he wanted to, and not just to suit her. It’s a pleasant fantasy to believe that we are perfect and only need our partner to realize that, but if the goal is realistic stories, a minor concession to show character growth on Lucky’s part would be helpful.
Overall, a fun read, with a nice mix of humor and sex scenes to keep things light and occasionally steamy. There’s also a great line: “Independence is nothing without someone to share it with.”