Info:Re-Read Challenge 2009
This month:Re-Read Challenge: January!
GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Love Spell, 1999
SERIES: Cajuns, book #1
Availability: still available
The back blurb:
“A love potion in a jelly bean?
Yep! Fame and fortune are surely only a swallow away when Dr. Sylvie Fontaine discovers a chemical formula guaranteed to attract the opposite sex. Though her own love life is purely hypothetical, the shy chemist’s professional future is assured… as soon as she can find a human guinea pig.
The only problem is the wrong man has swallowed Sylvie’s love potion. Bad boy Lucien LeDeux is more than she can handle even before he’s dosed with the Jelly Bean Fix. The wildly virile lawyer is the last person she’d choose to subject to the scientific method.
When the dust settles, Sylvie and Luc have the answers to some burning questions–Can a man die of testosterone overload? Can a straight-laced female lose every single one of her inhibitions?–and they learn that old-fashioned romance is still the best catalyst for love.”
The Love Potion is one of the first contemporary romances I read in English. The following quote (The Romance Reader) looks like something that likely induced me to buy it then:
When Sylvie Fontaine was twelve years old, swamp rat Lucien LeDeux asked her to dance. Painfully shy, she refused — and Luc has been the plague of her life ever since. Hiding his feelings for Sylvie under a veneer of swaggering Cajun confidence, Luc can’t help teasing her whenever their paths cross.
Unrequited love + nemesis-turned-lover = Yay!
I bought The Love Potion in January, 2001, thought it a hoot and since then, I’ve at least read it twice, although the last time was several years ago. But I still remember I was mightily impressed by the scene under the tree when I first read this novel. I recently mentioned this novel in a comment on a blog and well, I had to re-read it then.
The premise of The Love Potion has one difficulty you just have to accept to enjoy the story: Sylvie’s discovery of the love potion. Also, in the beginning Sylvie’s unconcern about the ethical implications of a pill that make you fall in love with the person whose enzymes happen to be in that pill (or jelly beans) might make you feel uncomfortable. But later, these implications turn into one of the main plot elements. So if you swallow (haha) these, The Love Potion shows itself to be a often fast-paced, tightly plotted and well-structured story.
Sylvie and Luc know each other since they were young children. Nearly as long they are what Sylvie’s friend Blanche calls “archenemies.”
It all began like this:
[Houma, Louisiana, 1978]
“You wanna dance?”
“No!” Sylvie looked with horror at a red-faced Lucien LeDeux. He stood before her, cowlick standing at attention, in his shiny Sunday Mass suit.
“No?” he asked, the blush of embarrassment on his dark-skinned face deepening to anger. “Why? Sylvie Fontaine is too good for me?” He made a derisive tsk-ing sound by clicking his tongue against his teeth. “A high-class cat and a Cajun swamp rat? Talk about!”
Oh, it was just like that awful Luc to single her out at her first boy-girl dance at Our Lady of the Bayou School! Painfully shy, she glanced quickly around the crepe-paper-festooned cafeteria to see if any of her classmates, or Sister Colette, was watching as the wickedest boy in the whole parish asked her to dance. “You are to bad for anyone, Luc LeDeux. But not because you’re Cajun. Because you are too…too…bad.”
“His lips curved into a nasty smirk. “And you are too goody-goody, Sylvie-chatte. Here, kitty, here, kitty. meow.” He danced around her in a teasing Acadian shuffle.
“Go away.” she urged in a mortified whisper.
He stared at her for a long moment, then turned to walk away. Over his shoulder he tossed a parting shot. “Ah well, I ain’t gonna die of a broken heart. But someday, Sylvie, you’re gonna beg me to dance with you, I guar-an-tee.”
“And it’s gonna be real close and slooow. And…and it will prob’ly be sexy, too. Yep, we’ll dance together…naked.”
Now it’s 1999, both Sylvie and Luc are thirty-three, and Luc’s question for a “slooow dance” has turned nearly into a standard greeting whenever they meet. Sylvie works as a chemist, Luc is a lawyer and is known as the “Swamp Solicitor,” famous for taking on cases every other lawyer wouldn’t dream of touching.
The story starts when Luc wants Sylvie to test a water sample for one of his cases. Sylvie is running the last tests on her “love potion” with lab rats – her most favorite pair of rats, Samson and Delilah, nearly seem like a blueprint for her relationship with Luc in the course of the story – when Luc comes by to ask for her help. To begin with, Luc catches Sylvie observing Samson and Delilah going at it again, and then:
Luc was tossing jelly beans up into the air, one at a time, like peanuts, and catching them in his mouth. She looked quickly at the petri dish at the other end of the table. It was only half full.
Oh, my God!
and all hell breaks loose. The love potion kicks in big time; both stories – Luc’s case and Sylvie’s love potion – make the news; because of that, everyone and their dog seems to be after Sylvie – or is it Luc? – and Sylvie and Luc go into hiding to figure out what the hell is going on. Throw in some voodoo, Samson and Delilah, Luc’s Tante Lulu – a hope-chest-and-St.-Jude-statuette maniac where Luc is concerned – plus a host of other quirky secondary characters and Luc’s hot brothers, and you’re in for quite some fun. And some hot loving.
In short: The Love Potion is a hilarious romp. Or as Remy to his brother Luc says: “Do the words voodoo, live chicken, a love potion, and two dingbat females riding a Harley mean anything to you?”
Sometimes, but only sometimes, the story falters a bit when teh FUNNY seems to take precedence over the plot and scenes turn out longer than needed. IMO, of course, because I should say that usually, the kind of humor used in this story seldom works for me. I tried other novels by Hill and I didn’t like them as much as in this one.
But then, these other novels didn’t have Sylvie and Luc. Luc especially. He’s hot, and he’s such a wonderful combination of crude and vulnerable, particularly where Sylvie is concerned. For example, he’s not above telling Sylvie that he doesn’t want her along when he goes into hiding while at the same time feeling he’s not good enough for her (wrong side of the tracks and all that). Yumm.
Overall, The Love Potion is more propelled by humor and action than by character development although both Sylvie and Luc have their personal baggage. But Hill deals with these things in a lighthearted and humorous way which makes it easy to dismiss the rather serious background of their characters. Sylvie comes from a family of over-achieving and cold women and her severe shyness (complete with panic attacks) doesn’t make things easier. She hopes that her discovery of the “love potion” takes care of both problems: give her a chance with a man and make her no longer feel inadequate in the eyes of her family. And Luc, he has a very difficult non-relationship with his father and does his best to live down to his “bad boy of the bayou” appellation. I especially appreciated how Sylvie’s shyness problem makes the story come full circle with the prologue at the end. For that, I even put up with the silly misunderstanding that was needed so that Sylvie could address this problem.
And needless to say, Luc gets his dance with Sylvie. Sexy. Naked. And no, I actually don’t mean the horizontal variation.
Verdict: I still think The Love Potion is a hoot and the scene under the tree is still OMG, IMO, and Luc’s character totally works for me in this story and – looking at my grading system – I’m undecided between calling it a very good read and an amazing read because I would say I love this story.
Hmm. 5/5 because I love Sylvie’s and Luc’s story so much for its poignant memories and laugh-out-loud and tender now-moments, and 4,5/5 for the parts teh FUNNY took slightly over the plot. Since I’m afraid I have my nostalgic lenses on too firmly, I’ll go with 4,5/5.
But this is definitely a book I would buy again if I somehow lost my copy. And it was a great choice for a re-read. I’m sure I won’t wait years before I read it again.