by Niqui Stanhope

September 2004
ISBN: 0-312-98624-6
Reviewer Graphic Button St. Martin`s Press
Mass Market Paperback

The title, Whatever Lola Wants, brought back some fond memories of the fantastic old movie classic Damn Yankees, and that standout character “Lola” played by the late, great Gwen Vernon. Remember the song “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets?” Although, in Niqui Stanhope’s latest endeavor, her Lola is just as conniving and determined as the Damn Yankees character, but sadly not nearly as endearing. I really tried to like this Lola; I wanted to feel compassion for her, most of all, I wanted to admire her drive to get the man she always wanted. However, she was not in the least likeable . . .in fact, I soon learned to loathe her. Although, in fairness, Ms. Stanhope does score “big-time” with the male hero. Chaz is everything Lola was not.

Sadie Green was the “fat girl” in high school, with pimples and braces, she was nobody’s fantasy. To make matters worse, she was in love with a boy who was just beyond her reach. Chaz Kelly was a handsome jock, destined for a brilliant career in the NFL. He befriended Sadie, and they grew extremely close, doing everything together, Chaz even helped Sadie with her household chores. Nevertheless, when the time was right, Chaz chose the most beautiful girl in school, Veronica Simms, for his life partner. In addition, her father was a sports agent and could help Chaz take his football career in the direction it needed to go. In a slipshod, boyish fashion, attempting but failing to console her, Chaz left a broken hearted, very angry Sadie behind. He will not only leave; Chaz will marry Veronica, and have a son as well. Happily, though (for Sadie) the marriage will end when Chaz suffers a knee injury and his promising career comes to a halt.

During the next eighteen years, Sadie makes a complete transformation. She matures into a beautiful, hot, foxy babe, with a very successful career in the construction industry, and Sadie completes that transformation by changing her name. From plain, old “Sadie Green” she evolves into the elegant and very wealthy . . . Lola St. James. Although, she never forgot or forgave the ultimate rejection, she still wants Chaz badly. More importantly, she wants him to want her, and completely on her terms. When Lola hears Chaz has started a career in landscape and pool designs, she sets her long awaited plans in motion. When Lola arranges their first meeting, Chaz has no idea that in truth, the fantastic looking woman sitting behind the large oak desk, is really Sadie Green. Feeling triumphant and very sure of herself, Lola delivers an offer no man with any pride should feel compelled to accept. Still, Lola was playing for the ultimate “money talks” stakes, and she knew that he would accept, no matter the conditions. Yes, Chaz was not a man who would allow pride to stand in his way. The single most important person in his life was his son; he would do what was best for him. Furthermore, he needed the prestige that the name Lola St. James could bring. It alone could guarantee a future for his struggling business.

Whatever Lola Wants could have easily been numbered among my favorite books. All the elements were there, but the delivery made me shudder at times. I sincerely enjoy protagonists who have complete transformations, but I do not like them to look in the mirror and sound totally narcissistic. Whether it is in an historical or contemporary setting, nothing can be more fun or heartwarming than the “ugly duckling” who transforms. In spite of this, Lola managed to become so vindictive, and ruthless, that even when she had a thoughtful or near endearing moment, you just could not get past her deviousness. I know we have all heard about “a woman scorned” but I would certainly hate to think everyone who has ever suffered a rejection would go to the lengths portrayed here. Her characterization was simply . . .unbelievable.

I recommend you read Whatever Lola Wants, and try to ignore Lola entirely. There is still some fun to be had. Chaz is smoldering . . . H-O-T and Lola’s long-time friend and housekeeper Annie is a treasure. Last but certainly not least is Chaz’s mischievous son Jamie. His escapades will bring a big smile to your face and a tear to your eye with his industriousness to reunite with his real mother. Furthermore, we can hope Ms. Stanhope will get it right next time around. I know that I will definitely be looking out for more, with my fingers firmly crossed.

Reviewed in December 2004 by Janice.

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