Donít Say Goodnight, Irene
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Pages: 45
Goes Well With: A hearty burger, an ice-cold beer, and a whiskey chaser (but only if you donít have to go back to work after lunch)

Romances tend to favor the young. Most romantic heroines are young and pretty and vibrantófree of things like wrinkles and age spots and unsightly roots. But, in her short romance, Donít Say Goodnight, Irene, author Gabriella Lucas shows that you donít have to be in your 20s to struggle with love.

When her friends, Aggie and Sam, return from their extended honeymoon in Africa, retired detective Irene Rohan doesnít have the same glow that she had when they leftóbecause she and the love of her life, Ted, have called it quits.

Slowly, reluctantly, Irene tells her tale of heartache: that, throughout their relationship, she was working with the FBI, who suspected Ted and his brother, Mike, of mob activity. And while she was bugging his phone, trying to find information that she hoped would clear his name, she discovered that he was cheating on her with his pretty young barmaid. Still, Irene misses Tedóso when he comes to her with an unbelievable story, she wants to believe him.

Donít Say Goodnight, Irene definitely isnít the typical short romance. For starters, the characters arenít the usual romantic leads. They arenít naÔve young girls with flowing blonde hair and tough young guys with bulging muscles who are building careers and managing social lives while trying to navigate their first loves. Instead, the characters here are mature adults who know what they wantóboth out of life and out of a partner. Theyíve lived their lives and followed their dreams, and now theyíre enjoying new love in their retirement. Itís a refreshingly different take on the usual romanceóand it makes for a charming read.

The story, meanwhile, is more than just the usual romantic fluff. In addition to Ireneís tale of love gone wrong, thereís a touch of mystery and a little bit of suspense, too, as readers wonder what Ted is really up toóand whether he can be trusted.

The problem, however, is a common one with stories this short: there simply isnít enough room to cover it all. While Irene, Aggie, and Sam are all likable characters, theyíre barely developed. It would be nice to know just a little more about their histories: who they are, where they came from, and how they ended up where they are. And Ted is even more of a mystery (and not always a good one, either). He is, after all, a pretty suspicious characteróone who isnít above breaking and entering and holding the woman he supposedly loves at gunpoint to get her attentionóand while Irene seems eager to believe him, readers wonít find it quite as easy.

In the end, Donít Say Goodnight, Irene feels like a good start to something. The characters are likable, and the story is intriguing, but the whole thing could use a little more development. And when it comes to an end, youíll feel as if youíve just read the first couple of chapters of a romantic thrillerónot the whole thing.

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