© 2003 All Rights Reserved Readers & Writers Reviews
CALLING ROMEO By Alexandra Potter Contemporary September 2002 Black Swan Books (UK) ISBN # 0-552-77003-5
SYSOP'S NOTE: Available only in the UK as of February 2003.
CALLING ROMEO is Ms. Potter's third novel in what the British call "chicklit", women's fiction. Chicklit caters mainly to the 24-30 age bracket of women readers. However this nearly 40-year-old reviewer found some rather decent surprises.
Juliet Morris is 30 years old, living with her longterm boyfriend Will Barraclough and feeling very much in a rut. It has been two years since their last holiday, the closest things to dinner and a movie was getting take-away and the movie of the week at the local video store, and worse, Will has stood her up on Valentine's Day. When he backs out at the last minute for a fancy dress party put on by the advertising company Juliet works for, she could only feel the final straw breaking her back. She'd grown complacent to Will's lazy attitude -- the not going out at the weekends, leaving dirty clothes all over their flat, not washing the dishes when it's his turn, all the take-aways and nights alone in front of the TV while Will was working, etc. But this was the last straw. This party was important to Juliet and Will knew it. To back out the minute as they were walking out the door was more than she could handle.
At the party Juliet is a presenter of two tickets for a romantic evening on the London Eye, the new Ferris wheel built to celebrate the Millennium in London. She was pleased when the bids reached 500 pounds, then suddenly a mysterious man bids 1,000 pounds, but only if Juliet will accompany him on the ride. Before she can protest the gavel is struck, sending Juliet's life into a world of romance, exotic destinations -- and deceit.
Will Barraclough quit his 9-to-5 job to pursue his dreams of becoming a landscape architect with his friend Rolf. Instead of finding himself on just the design end of the job, Will finds himself up to his scalp in mud, working late nights to meet deadlines and giving up the luxury of weekends. Especially the long Sunday mornings lounging in bed with Juliet! He knows the first year is the hardest for start-up companies. It takes a lot of work. At first he doesn't see Juliet's detachment. Even now when he's too tired to wonder where Juliet is. Until he realizes that he'd missed Valentine's Day! He knows Juliet is very upset with him. Her silent treatment proved that. But when he's forced to cancel out on her company's party, something tells Will he's losing the woman he loves.
CALLING ROMEO is the story of a woman looking for love in all the wrong places. Ms. Potter tells this tale expertly. Her ability to make strong emotions leap from the page and into readers' hearts seems to be done effortlessly. Each character is well-fleshed out, the problems between Will and Juliet are believable and each secondary character helps give this story multiple dimensions. For example, Juliet's best friend Trudy is an up-and-coming fashion designer who finds herself pregnant and alone. While she seems flighty and eccentric much of the time, she actually helps Juliet to focus on her situation. And because of the relationship the two women share, Juliet can help Trudy to make the right decision about her pregnancy.
CALLING ROMEO is filled with angst, humor, conflict, romance, misunderstanding, miscommunication, the romantic destination of Rome and every other thing that tugs on the heartstrings of human emotions. Readers would do well to forget that this is "chicklit" and just concentrate on a brilliantly told story. Ms. Potter is certainly a writer to watch for. I, for one, will be looking for her previously published books, GOING LA LA and WHAT'S NEW, PUSSYCAT to start my collection. Ms. Potter has earned another fan in this picky reviewer.
-- Reviewed by Kemberlee
Charter Member of RIO (Reviewers' International Organization)
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