Accountant, Harry Ambrewster has admired showgirl, Lainie Terrell from afar ever since she started dancing at the casino where he works. Then he discovered that she lives in the same apartment complex too. When Lainie's regular babysitter can't watch her son, Dexter, Harry volunteers for the job, and finds that Dexter is a little brainiac not unlike Harry was at his age. Unfortunately, Harry gets a very unpleasant surprise when Lainie's good-for-nothing ex comes pounding on the door in a drunken rage. Not certain what's going on in her life, Harry takes Dexter and runs as though their lives depend on it. When he finds out the truth of this single mom's dilemma, Harry's knight-in-shining-armor comes out to save the day.
Lainie thought she had an agreement with her ex, Joey, and that he wanted nothing more to do with her and Dexter. His family is made of money though, so when Harry tells her that Joey showed up on her doorstep demanding his fatherly rights, she can't help but be scared that he may try to take Dexter away from her. Harry suggests that they make a beeline for his mom, Rona's house which is guarded like Fort Knox by her possibly mobster connected boyfriend, Leo. Once there, Rona can't help playing the doting grandmother to Dexter and matchmaker to her son by suggesting that Dexter stay with her where he'll be safe, while Harry and Lainie get out of Dodge for a few days to let Joey cool off and Leo find out what he's up to. Harry and Lainie finally agree and end up at a flea-bag, time-share resort where their mutual attraction explodes into passion, but can a nerdy accountant and a sexy showgirl really have a future together? Not to mention, Joey just may be desperate enough to do almost anything to get Dexter back in his clutches.
I had read the first book in Vicki Lewis Thompson's Nerd series about a year ago and can't say that it tickled my funny bone in quite the way I had hoped, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I picked up the next book in the series. Fortunately, I liked The Nerd Who Loved Me quite a bit better than Nerd in Shining Armor. The characters, in general, had a bit more depth, and the heroine, in particular, was much more likable in my opinion. The plot was still pretty light and frothy and required the suspension of disbelief a few times, but in general, I felt it had more credibility. I also appreciated that the story wasn't overburdened with extreme cliches and absurdities. Even though there were some things that I thought could have been better, overall, The Nerd Who Loved Me ended up being a pretty enjoyable read.
I absolutely adore nerdy heroes, so Harry was the cat's meow for me. He's an extremely smart accountant for a Las Vegas casino where he secretly (or so he thinks) watches Lainie's shows every night from a private back table. They also live in the same apartment complex, and when he finds out that Lainie is having baby-sitter issues, he volunteers to watch her son. Harry is wonderful with Dexter, completely connecting with this little whiz-kid on an intellectual level, yet being good with him in a more general way too, which made me believe that he'd make a fabulous father someday. Of course, this gets him up close and personal with Lainie who he has a major crush on, but doesn't think she'd ever consider going out with a nerd like him. Harry is tall and reasonably attractive (what I imagined as cute), but I liked that physically he was more on the average side, nearly blind as a bat without his glasses and no longer buff since he gave up working out. He's also fairly reserved and not given to taking risks or living spontaneously until he gets mixed up in Lainie's life. Harry's just a really sweet guy who is very sympathetic of Lainie's predicament and would do anything to help her out. Once he really starts falling for Lainie, he does have a couple of alpha protective moments when he thinks her life is in danger, but overall Harry is a gentle beta. How could I possibly resist a nerd with a great butt who's an amazing lover? Come to think of it, I can't, since I married one.;-) Hubba, hubba!
In spite of being a showgirl, Lainie didn't come off as being an air-headed bimbo. She actually had some depth of character. She's obviously a wonderful loving mother to Dexter, and has tried to do everything she could to keep him safe and happy. She also recognizes his intelligence and tries to mentally stimulate him as much as possible. I loved that Harry had been starring in Lainie's sexual fantasies for quite a while which I thought showed that attraction, for her, was more than skin deep. Granted she had fallen for a looser like Joey five years before, but she was young and naive and her parents weren't very supportive of her. To me, she was a woman who had made some bad choices in her youth, but now was trying her best to grow up and be a mature adult. The only thing about Lainie that gave me pause was that she seemed a little too quick to give up on a possible life with Harry and give in to Joey's suggestion even though she knew she'd be absolutely miserable and Dexter probably would too, all for the sake of Dexter possibly inheriting a fortune someday from Joey's parents. Part of me understood that she was trying to be a selfless mother, but another part of me knows that there were other options for her. In this respect, I thought she reverted back to her old naiveté, because she obviously had lots of people on her side ready to help in any way they could. Otherwise, Lainie was a very likable heroine.
I liked Harry and Lainie as a couple too. Harry had been having difficulty finding a woman who could satisfy him both intellectually and sexually, and Lainie seemed to fit the bill. She knows how to deal with intelligent people, since she has a child prodigy for a son. She has a photographic memory herself, and physically is the type of beautiful girl that usually floats Harry's boat. I do wish that the intellectual connection between Harry and Lainie had been explored a bit more though, because I think it was present but took a back seat to the physical. However, I really liked their love scenes anyway, because they always gave so freely of themselves to each other. I thought this showed what great chemistry they had as well as how much they cared for each other even if they weren't ready to admit it. In my opinion, the sexual tension in the early part of the story could have used a little more subtlety. Based on the two books I've read by her, Vicki Lewis Thompson seems to have a tendency to hit the reader over the head with it rather than giving it more nuance. Also, during the early part of the story, Harry and Lainie repeatedly went back and forth in their minds over whether they could, should or would have sex which became a bit grating. I definitely commend the author for taking the time to write safe sex scenes (a big pet peeve of mine), but the condom countdown (which also happened in Nerd in Shining Armor) was perhaps a bit much. In spite of these last couple of issues though, I thought that Harry and Lainie were a very well-matched and appealing couple.
The Nerd Who Loved Me had a broad and fun palette of supporting characters. Harry's mom, Rona, is an ex-showgirl with a penchant for matchmaking and a burning desire to be a grandma. Her long-time boyfriend, Leo, has a bad-boy persona (everyone thinks he may be a mafia boss), but Rona has him totally wrapped around her little finger. Rona's friends, all of whom are ex-showgirls who've dubbed themselves the TITS (you'll have to read it to understand), are a hoot. Even Rona's little dog, Fred, gets into the act. Dudley, a kind-of jack-of-all-trades at the resort, was an interesting mix of annoying when in salesman mode, and somewhat endearing when he's helping to save the day. Lainie's little boy, Dexter, is as cute as a button and pretty much how I would expect a precocious four-year-old to be. Lainie's ex, Joey, is a total jerk of a villain, who much to my amusement, got taken down a couple of pegs in a rather mad-cap finale.
The Nerd Who Loved Me started out at a pretty snappy pace, but got a bit sluggish through the middle sections. I think there was a little too much padding in both the dialog and narrative, but it did ramp back up somewhat for a fun and satisfying ending. Overall, it was an enjoyable read that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a light, easy romance with entertaining, likable characters. The Nerd Who Loved Me is book #2 in the Nerd series, but it is my understanding that there are no interconnected plots or characters within the books, only the nerd theme, so they could easily be read in any order or as stand-alones.
The Hope Chest Reviews on Facebook