Harlequin American Romance #389
VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉
Reviewed by Introvert Reader
Published in 1991, Judith Arnold‘s A> Loverboy is the final installment in the Harlequin American Romance line “A Century of Romance” series. There were ten books in the series, each one focusing on a decade in the 20th century. Even though they were published through a category romance line, all the books could be considered “historical” romances. All, that is, except A>Loverboy, which is more like historical fantasy or speculative fiction. Take your pick. Because instead of taking place in 1991, it’s set at a fictional end of the decade, the end of the century, in fact.
The Future Past
A> Loverboy is a humorous romance about two coworkers falling in for each other in an unusual way. Before there was “You’ve Got Mail” with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, there was this book.
Lucy Beckwith is an uptight divorcee working in tech. You can tell I know nothing about computers because of the phrasing I use. Back in the 1980s, Jim Kazan was a prodigy who’d hacked into the Pentagon. This brought him notoriety and put him on the covers of every major magazine.
Years later, he’s still working in computers, this time in the “new Silicon Valley” of Kansas. In this reality, “The Big Earthquake” had finally hit California in the early part of the 1990s. The economy was disrupted, causing many businesses to move out of state.
Lucy doesn’t think much of Jim, except that he’s an egoist who lives off his hacker reputation.
One night Lucy starts getting mysterious messages on her work computer.
A> I crave your body.
Why would anyone crave her body? Lucy wonders. Her ex-husband hadn’t thought much of her shape. Her breasts were the size of lemons, for goodness sake!
A> I want you, Lucy Beckwith.
The messages continue. Rather than being disgusted, Lucy is intrigued. Who was this mysterious admirer?
A> Call me Loverboy.
The flirtatious glowing words on her screen bewilder Lucy.
The Future Present
It’s no surprise that the man behind the messages is the arrogant big-shot Lucy can’t stand, Jim Kazan. Jim tries his best to woo her online and in real life. Lucy finds Jim’s confidence isn’t so off-putting once she gets to know him. And being desired by a secret admirer is working wonders on her own confidence.
This book was witty and quirky. Although it has aged oddly, it’s funny to see what Arnold’s ideas of the future entailed and see what she got right or got wrong. Reading A> Loverboy was akin to watching movies from the 1980s that predicted aliens and hovercars by the year 2020. I mean, sure, the aliens are here hiding in plain sight, as lizard people are wont to do. But we were promised hovercars, too, dammit! People in their 1999 wore special jackets to block out the UV rays. In the genuine “Current Year,” almost everybody wears a minimum of SPF 55 sunblock when they step into the sunlight. I remember when sunblock with an SPF of 10 was a big deal. And PABA-free! (Does any modern sunscreen contain that anymore?)
Arnold did predict reality tv right. Or at least, “The Bachelor”-like programs where people “find love” in front of cameras and millions of viewers.
There’s a subplot about a teenage girl, Dara Lynn, who believes that Jim is her father, as she’s the result of an IVF pregnancy to a single mom. Jim supposedly donated a specimen to a fertility clinic years ago, and she’s connected the dots to him.
But the subplot is a minor one and takes backstage to the main love story. Jim is a charming rogue, an Alpha nerd who is determined to get the woman he wants. He desires Lucy not only for her body but her brains as well.
Final Analysis of A> Loverboy
What will happen when Lucy realizes the man who’s won her heart like a cyber Cyrano de Bergerac is, in reality, the smartass, know-it-all whose superior airs and sexy smile drive her crazy?
Despite A>Loverboy not accurately representing the 1990s, I really enjoyed this engaging little romance. Lucy was a very realistic depiction of an insecure woman who flourished under some much-deserved adoration. Jim was a cute, witty hero. Arnold’s humorous handling of this romance left me smiling.