Bestseller Valdes-Rodriguez (Playing with Boys) shows she can brand name-drop with the best of them in her third chica lit offering, a busy celebrity fantasy populated by six women and the "him" of the title, Latin pop sensation Ricky Biscayne. Beyond product placement for Rock & Republic jeans, Dolce & Gabbana shoes and Cristal (and that's just the first page), this Miami yarn is heavy with dramatic touchstones: an abandoned child, domestic abuse, sibling rivalry, romantic infidelities and the pregnancy of Ricky's wife, Jasminka. Narrated mostly by Ricky's new publicist, Milan, the story shifts perspectives-sometimes changing narrators without warning-among Milan's sister, nightclub entrepreneur Geneva, Ricky's high school flame Irene, fatherless teenager Sophia, the famous (and familiar) singer/actress/brand Jill Sanchez, and Jasminka. Though a boon plot-wise, this crowd gives individuals little room to come alive; mostly, characters are either underdeveloped (Jasminka) or conform to types (Jill and Geneva), and they all resemble celebrities (Ricky: a "less greasy Antonio Banderas," Geneva: a "slightly prettier Penelope Cruz"). The villainous portrayal of Jill, obviously modeled after a real-life pop star, is particularly unimaginative, as is the predictable message she sets up. Despite these problems, however, our refreshingly imperfect and insecure heroine, Milan, shines, and there are enough reversals of fate and fortune to make this a satisfying read. (Apr. 18) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Valdes-Rodriguez's earlier books Playing with Boys and especially The Dirty Girls Social Club had strong female characters who came alive with humor, solid relationships or friendships, and genuine worries. Her third novel relies too heavily on thinly veiled fictional renderings of real-life celebrities and gossip column opinions. Six varied women's lives revolve around pop Latino star Ricky Biscayne, and the switching among their stories is often abrupt (there also seems to be some odd breaks as tracks change) but handled fairly well by Isabel Keating's bilingual narration. There is some self-deprecating humor that rings true with prime narrator Milan, Ricky's new publicist and number one fan, but the rest of the cast are underdeveloped and too stereotypical. A disappointing novel, but it probably has enough romantic pull to make it viable for light vacation listening. Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
A Miami singing sensation has a profound impact on the women who surround him. Ricky Biscayne is the sexy center of his own female-centric universe in Valdes-Rodriguez's gossipy third novel (after Playing with Boys, 2004, etc.). On the cusp of national stardom with the release of his first English-language album, Ricky has undeniable charisma and talent, not to mention a not-so-hidden dark side and burgeoning drug problem. His diverse entourage includes his pregnant wife Jasminka, a war-haunted Serbian supermodel hungry for family (and food, long denied her), and his glamorous secret lover Jill Sanchez, a Puerto Rican diva even more famous than he. There is also his devoted new publicist Milan, a naive and chubby Cuban-American who lives with her parents and would do anything to protect her idol, and her more sophisticated sister Geneva, a Harvard MBA opening a trendy club that Ricky has invested in. Rounding out the group is Ricky's long-lost high-school sweetheart Irene, a struggling, single-mother firefighter, who reappears in his life after her teenaged daughter, Sophia, figures out that Ricky might actually be her father. It is his cruel treatment of the girl, along with other bad behavior, that finally gets to Milan, who has herself been dallying with her boss. Disillusioned by seeing the true personality of the man she once worshipped, and feeling guilty over her role in covering up for Ricky, she decides to use her publicist's gifts for good rather than evil, and enlists the others to help her. The elaborate plan culminates on the opening night of the club when the singer is forced to face the consequences of his actions. Meanwhile, the women manage to find romance, purpose andfriendships away from the toxic Lothario. The deliciously bitchy exception is calculating Jill Sanchez, who will remind readers of a certain real-life actress/singer/perfume mogul. Entertaining if conventionally plotted crowd-pleaser.
“Escapist Entertainment with a Latina heart.” AudioFile on The Dirty Girls Social Club
“A good time between hardcovers.” New York Daily News
“Skillfully and lovingly illustrates the diversity of Latino culture.” Library Journal
“Readers will snap this book off the shelves and not be disappointed.” Booklist
“Our refreshingly imperfect and insecure heroine, Milan, shines.” Publishers Weekly
“Entertaining ...crowd-pleaser.” Kirkus Reviews
“The real fun comes from eating up all the oh-no-she-didn't parallels between the characters' exploits and real-life celeb misbehavior.” Entertainment Weekly
“Chica lit reina Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez is back this month with her third book... about six mujeres and their adventures with one horny cantante named Ricky Biscayne.” Latina
“Start reading it, and it's hard to stop.” The Ohio Record Courier
“An unabashed glitzfest.” Arizona Republic
“Scandalous… [with] blatant sex appeal.” The Sunday Oklahoman
“Top-notch look at human nature at its bestand worst.” Romantic Times
“Valdes-Rodriguez really shines when she rips on the lifestyle of the rich and self-indulgent.” Sunday Journal (Albuquerque, NM)
“The romp through Ricky's world of women is pure escapist fun.” Calgary Herald