Rarely does an author make my auto-buy list after only one try. Lisa Plumley is one of these elite few who landed decisively with her latest release, MAKING OVER MIKE.
The owner of a struggling start-up company, Aspirations, Inc, Amanda Connor is desperate. Unless she can come up with the winner of her Life Coach Lotto promotion, she can kiss her dreams and aspirations goodbye. Her chance for success rests solely on a local news station's offer to track one of her clients through a whole-life makeover and, if successful, translate that into a weekly TV spot for Amanda.
Taxi-driver(aka unemployed chef) Mike Cavaco is just trying to make ends meet while he searches for the right employment opportunity after having discovered that "good intentions" mean nothing. However, his "good intentions" again turn his life upside down when he finds 16 tickets for the Life Coach Lotto stuffed in the back seat of his cab. Being an honest guy, Mike feels it's his responsibility to turn them in so the rightful owner can claim them. No premonition told him he was in for the ride of his life.
Amanda's first reaction to the ripped-jeans-stained-T shirt-scruffy-shaggy apparent winner of the contest, "Oh, no. Not the taxi guy," quickly dissolves into determination and resolve when she realizes what a coup this would mean for her business and her future. And determination is what Amanda needs lots of to get Mike to agree, as `makeover' is not a word found in Mike Cavaco's personal vocabulary. But something about Amanda sticks with him and refuses to leave and Mike finds himself reluctantly agreeing.
Mike's your typical macho guy and faced with pink fluffy spa robes, manicures, waxing, he certainly could have become nasty about all of it. But the author refrains from devolving him into that category, using humor instead, and for this she put me firmly in love with this guy. As the makeover progresses, and he learns more about Amanda, Mike finds himself becoming more and more attached to his Life Coach. And despite her rule to never get involved with a client, Amanda finds herself falling deeper and deeper for the scruffy cab driver.
At times the story is hysterically funny [the scene in a restaurant/pool hall where Amanda and Mike wager a game of pool with Mike's motorcycle/pool shark friends is priceless], poignant [the transformation of the Mike's friends, the dreams Mike and Amanda have and the motivation that drives them], and heart wrenching [as Mike and Amanda come to grips with what they've come to mean to each other]. Their struggle to resolve the crisis in their lives that this makeover has created leads to some difficult choices for both and to a final scene that had my eyes a bit misty even as I smiled.
MAKING OVER MIKE evoked my every emotion and made me thankful for authors such as Ms. Plumley-who proves it is possible to craft a story filled with strong, believable, sympathetic characters without resorting to the crude and uncouth. These are the kind of characters with whom I'd like to have as friends in real life. If you're a fan of Patti Berg or Millie Criswell, you will love Lisa Plumley's MAKING OVER MIKE. And thankfully, you won't have to wait too long for her next book, FALLING FOR APRIL, which will be out in March 2002. It's already on my list of books to buy in 2002.