The Comeback Kiss

The Comeback KissThe Comeback Kiss by Lani Diane Rich
Publisher: StoryWonk Publishing
Number of pages: 336
My copy: ebook

Sometimes love just won’t go away. — ALL IT TAKES IS ONE LITTLE KISS… — In order to keep custody of her teenage sister, Tessa Scuderi told a small (okay, big) lie to the people of Lucy’s Lake, Vermont, about what really happened ten years ago when Dermot Finnegan took off with her virginity, her car, and the town bell. It had been working, too, until she found her old car parked in front of her house, keys in the ignition, and a telltale red hair stuck to the headrest.

TO TOTALLY SCREW EVERYTHING UP.

All Finn wanted to do was return the stupid car and get going. But he stopped to save a burning pet shop (big mistake), ended up kissing Tessa behind the drugstore (big mistake, but worth it), and discovered that Tessa’s been building him up as some kind of town hero all these years (gonna have to puzzle that out). Now Finn has to find out who’s behind a string of mysterious fires and deal with the heat between him and Tessa. Hey, one more kiss can’t hurt — or can it?

* * *

I discovered Lani Diane Rich back around 2008, when I was searching for writers who published their NaNoWriMo novels. I managed to get copies of her books and loved it, but they were always so hard to find that I sort of gave up on completing her entire backlist. I have very fond memories of reading The Fortune Quilt, and wishing that I could write something so funny and still so real like that. So now that I am actually in a romance writing class (long story, will talk about it next time), I decided to stock up on books in the genre. I stumbled into Lani Diane Rich again, and was very happy to finally get another one of her books.

Tessa Scuderi knew it’s wrong to lie, but if it’s a lie that would make her keep custody of her younger sister, then she would stick by it. Especially when it also means that she would forget about her best friend and first love, Dermot Finnegan, who had left with her car, her virginity and the town bell after their last escapade. But when she finds her old car parked in front of her house, Tessa realizes that Finn is back, and her life is turned upside down again.

Reading The Comeback Kiss reminds me of my reading experiences with Sarah Addison Allen and Kristan Higgins. There’s the small town charm with lots of really fun secondary characters, just like Sarah Addison Allen’s novels, and then there’s the laugh-out-loud scenes and swoony romance of a Kristan Higgins novel. The Comeback Kiss is a fun read, and it’s comforting because it’s fluffy, but not too fluffy that it’s almost just brain candy. This isn’t just another romance novel, but it had real emotions, and real complications of past choices and repercussions of the characters’ actions.

I think the best part of this book is how Finn and Tessa were portrayed, especially with their friendship. Their love story is one that is borne out of years of friendship, and it made sense how they both knew each other so well that they were not just lovers (complicated lovers, but still) but also best friends. One of my favorite passages in the book describes just that:

…Finn yelled, “I gots Tootsie Rolls!” from the sidewalk where he stood watching. Tessa froze in her spot, staring at him, transfixed…The next day, Finn stole a bag of Tootsie Rolls from the corner market and went to Tessa’s house, where he found out that she was four years old and that her favorite color was yellow. They’d been friends ever since.

The friendship angle gives their relationship more credibility, and it was fun reading their interactions and how Finn saw himself and how Tessa saw Finn and how he saw her. Ah, it had just the right amount of mush, and it was realistic enough to know that love isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, even if you know each other very well.

While there’s nothing really completely new with the story as far as the romance goes, I think The Comeback Kiss is still a completely enjoyable book. It put me in the proper writing/outlining state of mind when I finished reading it, enough to submit one assignment for my romance writing class. :)

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Other reviews:
Trashionista

A Little Ray of Sunsine (Lani Diane Rich)

A Little Ray of Sunshine by Lani Diane Rich A Little Ray of Sunshine by Lani Diane Rich
NAL Trade, 304 pages

Emmy James is not the kind of girl who attracts angels. In fact, after she sent her life into a nosedive six years ago, she’s tried to attract as little as possible -attention, people, or responsibility. She skips from town to town in an Airstream trailer, working odd jobs and keeping to herself until a sudden whim lets her know it’s time to move again.

And this works just fine, until the day two unexpected visitors show up at the New Jersey trailer park she calls home. One is a childhood friend with news: her mother and his father are getting married, and they want EJ to be there. The other is a sweet but odd woman named Jess, who says she’s an angel specializing in cosmic relationship mending…and blueberry pancakes. Jess doesn’t think it’s any coincidence that this is all happening at once, but EJ would rather run herself over with her own Airstream before reconnecting with her neglectful, self-absorbed mother. When she wakes up to find her trailer cruising down the highway with a determined angel at the wheel, however, EJ realizes that sometimes what you want and what the Universe intends for you can be two very different things…

I am really starting to love Lani Diane Rich‘s works. There’s something about what she writes and the people she writes about that really piques my interests, and this one is no different. (Plus, don’t you just love that cover? :P)

EJ is a girl who’s been around for the past six years, going from one place to another, taking jobs as a cashier, using a receipt printer and just living on her own. What people don’t know about her is that she’s the daughter of Lilly Lorraine, a famous actress, and it’s something she doesn’t really want people to know. Frankly, she’d rather bury her past and just live the way she lives now — it’s less painful that way.

But one day brings her two unexpected surprises: one is a visit from an old friend telling her that her mother is getting married yet again to his father and probably the closest and most real parent he’d ever had. And she gets a visit from an angel — or someone who thinks she is. Jess, the angel, is convinced that the Universe wants her to help EJ, and would stop at nothing in doing so — even going as far as “kidnapping” EJ.

After much reluctance, EJ finally decides to go home just for the wedding, but what she saw when she got back was something she never expected. Oh, and her old friend and ex-fiancee was there too — with a lot of old hurts that she never thought she’d have to deal with all over again.

A Little Ray of Sunshine is exactly what the title says — it’s a little ray of sunshine in a book. It’s a really entertaining story, with a wacky cast of characters. EJ, with all her rudeness to her mother and the people around her and her need to go to be alone, is still very endearing. Jess is such a darling, and I almost thought she was a real angel until her own secrets were revealed. Lilly was annoying and lovable at the same time. The tension between the characters was the kind of thing that you’d see in real life, and the resolution was realistic enough that you know it’s just the right way for the story to go to.

It’s a really good book, and I’m sure I’d want to read more of Lani Diane Rich’s work. :)

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Cover & Blurb: Goodreads

→ Lani Diane Rich’s website

Note: Review originally posted at Refine Me