Simply Sam (Deana Brauer)

4 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
If you’re in the mood for a quick and light Silhouette (before there were so many subgenres and longer, lengthier tomes), this is a fun one: we’ve got Samantha Smith, who’s literally the girl next door, and her neighbor Jake Silvercloud (whom she’s always “hankered” after). Their parents decide that it’s past time the two make a match of it, decide to meddle, and of course, hilarity ensues. It’s a nice ugly duckling transformation story mixed in with girlhood crush finally realized: a fun afternoon read.

Greater Detail:
So you have to take everything set in this world with a grain of salt — this is a clean, almost old-fashioned romance (though set in the now-ish era). Sam is literally the girl next door who’s always worked the land and always had a crush on her neighbor, Jake. Jake, of course, is the good looking, fun-loving guy who’s always seem himself more as an older brother than a potential suitor for his red-haired former playmate.

Sam’s mother, a rather more sexually confident woman (and romance author, of course), decides that it’s time Sam comes into her own — she whisks away her daughter to have her hair and makeup seen to, a new (revealing) wardrobe purchased, etc.

It’s all very, very, predictable, with old friends, a thrown-in romance competitor (not at all believable) and a bit of eye-rolling here and there. But it’s good, light-hearted fun. The makeover scenes and Jake’s predictable oh-my moments are engaging and entertaining, and though the last minute misunderstanding is a trifle overdone, it’s a fun read overall.

Comparisons to Other Authors:
I think it would be fairer to say that, relative to other Silhouette Romance offerings, this was one of my upper-tier rankings. This is one of those shorter novels that isn’t necessarily supposed to be read again and again, but were meant to be more afternoon-escapist: low on the sensuality, high on the hilarity. I think, generalized to other Harlequins and Silhouettes of the time, this fares rather well.

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