Imprint or Line: Harlequin American Romance #389
Book Series: A Century of American Romance #10
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon, AbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader
MILD SPOILERS 😉
Published in 1991, Judith Arnold‘s A> Loverboy is the final installment in the Harlequin American Romance line “A Century of American Romance” series. There were ten books in the series, each one focusing on a decade in the 20th century.
Even though they were published in a category romance contemporary 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 the actual 1990 when this book was published (1991), A> Loverboy is set at a fictional end of the decade, the end of a century, and the end of a millennium.
The Future Past
A> Loverboy is a funny 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” 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.
The Future Present
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.
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.
The Future Future
Although the vision of the 1990s depicted herein has “not aged so well,” it’s worth assessing what Arnold’s ideas of a not-too-distant future (that has now passed) entailed. This aspect categorizes A> Loverboy as speculative fiction and romance.
Reading this American Harlequin was akin to watching movies from the ’80s that predicted hovercars and aliens by the year 2020.
I mean, yes, aliens are here hiding in plain sight, as lizard people are wont to do. But we were promised hovercars, too, dammit!
People in this book’s version of 1999 have to wear special lightweight jackets to block out harmful UVRs.
In our genuine “Current Year,” almost everybody wears no less than a minimum of SPF 30 sunblock when they go outdoors in summer. I remember when they sold SPF 5 in tubes, and anything over 10 marked was for only the palest or easily freckled skin. And it was always PABA-free! (Does any modern sunscreen contain that anymore?)
Arnold did get reality TV right. Or at least, programs like “The Bachelor” where people find “real love” in front of cameras and millions of viewers.
Another Element in This Futuristic Romance
There’s a subplot about a teenager named Dara Lynn, who believes that Jim is her father.
Her unmarried mom birthed Dara Lynn during an IVF pregnancy. Jim Kazan–supposedly–donated a specimen to a fertility clinic right before Dara Lynn’s mother sam. She’s connected the dots and set her hopes on Jim as her father.
That subplot is a minor one, however, taking 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 brain as well.
What will happen when Lucy realizes the man who’s won her heart like a cyber Cyrano de Bergerac is really the smart-ass, genius whose superior airs and sexy smile drive her crazy?
Final Analysis of A> Loverboy
Despite A>Loverboy not accurately representing the 1990s, I really enjoyed this engaging funny romance.
Lucy was an authentic depiction of an insecure woman who flourished under some much-deserved adoration. Jim was a cute, witty hero.
Judith Arnold‘s humorous handling of this romance left me smiling.
|Rating Report Card|
“I crave your body.” Seeing this message on her computer screen, Lucy Beckwith wondered if she’d finally gone mad. It had to be a mistake; at the very least, someone’s idea of a bad joke.
“I want you, Lucy Beckwith.” Her admirer certainly knew who she was—but when Lucy asked for his identity, all he said was, “Call me Loverboy.”
“I dreamed you were in my bed. ” Erotic messages … homespun poetry… outrageous flattery—Lucy couldn’t help but fall for Loverboy’s brand of old-fashioned romance.
“My heart is yours.” Lucy couldn’t believe two people could fall in love when they’d never even seen each other. But at the dawn of the twenty-first century, anything is possible…A> LOVERBOY by JUDITH ARNOLD
Thanks, Introvert Reader. As the saying goes, the future ain’t what it used to be!
I remember using computers in the late 80s and early 90s. When MS-DOS was the go-to operating system and the Internet had yet to take off. The interface was pretty basic. No images or videos; just text. File names couldn’t be more than eight characters long, hence the title of this novel. How far we’ve come in a generation!
I remember the series “A Century of American Romance”. I read the first book, “Saturday’s Child” by Dallas Schulze, shortly after it was published in 1990.
But I can remember hardly anything about it. Except that it was loaded with period details. Which, under the circumstances, I suppose it would have to be.
“A>Loverboy” is available to borrow for free at the Internet Archive, the big online lending library: https://archive.org/details/1990sloverboy00arno_0/mode/2up