Genevieve Terrence moved with her mother and younger brother from Tennessee to Honolulu a decade earlier at the age of fifteen. Trying to hide her hillbilly roots and better herself, she works as a secretary for a cutting edge software company. Gen has been admiring her boss, Nick, for quite some time, even though everyone knows that he is a womanizer who has seduced nearly every female in the office by taking them on business trips that "accidentally" require an overnight stay. Gen naively believes that he's her soulmate, and if she gets a shot with him, everything will be different. When Nick finally invites her on his next trip, she all but jumps at the chance. Gen is none to happy though to discover that nerdy Jackson Farley will be accompanying them, thinking that he will surely ruin all her cunning plans for a romantic night with Nick.
Ever since Jackson started working for Rainbow Systems, he's had a major crush on Gen. Of course, he figures that a nerd like him would never have a chance with a beauty like her, so she has always remained nothing more than the object of his fondest fantasies. Jackson works things out with their other boss, Matt, to go on the business trip with Nick and Gen, thinking that not only can he get some work done, but perhaps he can be there to comfort Gen and help pick up the pieces when Nick dumps her after their one-night stand.
Little does Jack or Gen know that Nick has been embezzling money from the company, so when he pulls a gun on them mid-air and takes a flying leap out of the airplane with the only parachute, they are left stunned. Nick had also been their pilot, and with him no longer at the helm, it seems that Jack and Gen are on a collusion course with death. Luckily Jack has done lots of computer flight simulations, and manages to successfully ditch the plane in the ocean close enough to a small deserted island that they are able to swim to shore. With her backwoods upbringing, Gen knows quite a bit about the outdoors, so once ashore they manage pretty nicely to find food and shelter. After Jack's heroic landing of the plane and seeing his surprisingly muscular body in action carry rocks to build their little safe haven, Gen begins to consider Jack in a whole new light. When Gen's little pink suitcase containing a half-dozen condoms comes bobbing to the surface, they both start thinking that a little fun in the sun before getting rescued might be just the thing, but unbeknownst to them both, a certain ne'er-do-well has also temporarily been forced to take up residence in their little piece of paradise.
I went into reading Nerd In Shining Armor knowing that it was a romantic comedy. Even if I didn't, it wouldn't have been difficult to figure that out with the cartoon cover. Still, I guess I was expecting it to have at least a little bit of depth. Instead, what I got was a frothy concoction that reminded me of a B-movie. Admittedly, I have a tendency to constantly analyze both the content of a book, as well as my emotions and reactions to it as I'm reading, which in this case, was leading to a laundry list of problems as long as my arm. Once I came to the realization that I was supposed to check my brain at the door and just go along for the ride, I enjoyed the rest of the story better. In some ways, I think the humor might be well-suited for readers with an appreciation for a much wider variety of comedy styles than I have. It should also most definitely appeal to anyone who prefers, or occasionally likes to take a break with, a goofy story that doesn't make you think about anything heavy at all. I suppose I don't really fall neatly into either category, and while I consider myself to have a fairly good sense of humor, this story contained a plethora of absurdities and extreme cliches, which didn't quite tickle my funny bone in the way I think it was intended.
Even though I figured out the angle on the comedy and to not take things too seriously, I still couldn't quite get past the lack of what I consider to be real romance. I freely admit that I'm perhaps a bit old-fashioned in my preference that the characters in my romance novels be in love or well on their way before they make love, but I can, on occasion, overlook that if the author really makes me believe in the relationship. Unfortunately, what Jackson and Genevieve shared just felt so shallow, I couldn't really bring myself to even imagine basing love on it, much less a marriage. Even though they had been co-workers before being stranded on the island together, there was no indication of any close friendship between them, only that Jack had lusted after Gen from afar. Gen had no particular attraction to Jack until he took his shirt off on the island. Then she noticed he had a pretty hot body, and started lusting after him too. Of course, one thing led to another and before you know it, they're having sex like rabbits. Jack, being the loyal puppy dog that he is, started thinking immediately about continuing their relationship after being rescued, but Gen fought the idea right up until the end. There just wasn't enough of an emotional connection for me to become fully invested in the outcome, and they didn't even mention love until the last few pages. I also found myself doing a lot of eye-rolling over how these two, as well as the two secondary characters, Matt and Annabelle, had a totally one-track mind about sex, thinking about it even in the midst of dire and distressing circumstances, not to mention the ease with which they discussed the topic with one another as virtual strangers. One would think with all the frank sex talk, the love scenes would be smokin' hot, and while I'll allow that there was a variety of steamy forms of sexual stimulation and plenty of creativity in the foreplay (loved when Jack pretended to be a pirate to fulfill Gen's fantasy), it always ended in a cut scene before the "big event." I don't mind less explicit love scenes, but in this case, I felt like candy was being dangled in front my nose and then cruelly snatched away. I was also left wondering what happened to that last condom that was supposedly being saved for something really special which never materialized.:-(
I will give Vicki Lewis Thompson kudos for writing a hero who is about as close to a genuine nerd as I've read in a romance novel. I enjoy my alpha heroes, but they're a dime a dozen, whereas geeks are pretty rare. I love these kind of guys which isn't too surprising since I'm married to one, but the few genius heroes I've read in romance usually still tend to be super-hot, rich or have something else going for them that gives them a natural sex appeal. Jackson, on the other hand, was pretty much what most people would expect a nerd to be right down to his horrible fashion sense (although it was mostly caused by color blindness) and extreme focus which made him very forgetful. He did have a buff body due to the use of his home gym whenever he was working on particularly perplexing problems in his head, as well as a fairly impressive male attribute. Since he was single and always working, Jack had been able to save up quite a bit of money, but I still didn't get the impression that he was remotely wealthy. He also had some sexual prowess, but it was treated as a product of him being a smart, sensitive individual and not full of himself like a more good-looking guy might be, which I really appreciated. Overall, Jackson was a pretty cool hero, who reminded me in many ways of the geeks I know.
I think Genevieve was supposed to be a little smarter than she seemed, but at times, she came off as a bit of an airhead. She really reminded me of the beauties on the television show, Beauty & the Geek, just as much as Jack reminded me of the geeks. I think a large part of that impression of her was formed when she agreed to go on the overnight business trip with her boss (and eventual bad guy) Nick. She knew full well that he had seduced nearly every secretary in the office the same way, yet naively thought that she would be the one to "fix" him and marry him. The rest of it came about when she revealed the extremely young age at which she had lost her virginity, all for the promise of going to the movies. I also don't think she and her family back home could have been packed with any more cliches if you tried. After she gave up her "proper" facade, all sorts of folksy colloquialisms came streaming from her along with numerous backwoods tales that embodied every hillbilly stereotype known to man. I have an uncle who was raised backwoods hillbilly who is less cliched than Gen. She was just so much of a caricature, I generally didn't have any strong feelings toward her one way or the other. I did get fairly annoyed with her though when she, in my opinion, became patronizing toward Jack, first about his lack of outdoors skills, and then later about his presumed lack of sexual experience. This was all after he had crash landed a plane in the ocean and gotten them both to shore safely, which made her seem a little ungrateful to me. Luckily Jack briefly stood up for himself verbally and later showed just how good he was in bed. After than she wasn't quite as condescending, and they worked together as more of a team.
Readers get something of a two-for-one deal in the romance department with Gen and Jack's boss, Matt and Gen's mom, Annnabelle, who have a little secondary relationship going, although I can't say that it had much more depth than Jack and Gen's. Matt seemed like a pretty nice guy who deserved far better than what he'd had with his ex-wife. All things considered, Annabelle had done a good job of raising Genevieve and her little brother, Lincoln, as a single mom, and she had a lot of guts to leave her entire family behind in Tennessee to try to better herself in Hawaii. Aside from embodying a touch of the paranormal in his psychic ability, Lincoln was a fairly normal teenage boy. I liked him because he showed respect for his mom and sister, but at the same time was going through a typical rebellious stage that included multi-colored hair. The bad guy, Nick, was something of a contradiction, because he was supposedly smart enough to embezzle millions of dollars and skilled enough to be an expert pilot, yet in the end was nothing but a bumbling idiot. I also never quite figured out why he took Gen and Jack with him and wanted to kill them, but this was one of the things I decided to quit thinking about and just go with it.
Overall, I found Nerd in Shining Armor to be a bit 'o' fluff that somehow kept me reading in spite of itself. Maybe it's because I love the stranded on a deserted island theme or maybe I was waiting to see what crazy thing would happen next, but the book certainly had some entertainment value even though I didn't entirely "get it." As I mentioned earlier, readers who have a wide-ranging sense of humor, those who love the wacky and absurd, or anyone looking for some really light reading might like this story. Just be sure to disengage your brain before opening the cover. Nerd in Shining Armor is the first book in Vicki Lewis Thompson's Nerd series, although from everything I've heard, there don't seem to be any inter-connecting characters or plot from one book to the next, only the nerd theme. This was also my first read by Ms. Thompson, but I have several more on my TBR pile. Even though it wasn't quite what I was expecting, I'm sure I'll be giving her books another try soon. I'll hopefully just be more prepared the next time around.
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