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Take a rom-com road trip in 'How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days'

K.M. Jackson's new How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days is a rollicking rom-com full of fun, complex characters, laugh-out-loud one-liners and the kind of delicious banter that keeps you smiling from page one to the very end.

Also, let's not forget that the main character is on a mission worthy of any Keanu Reeves fangirl or fanboy worldwide. Bethany Lu Carlisle is a 40-something (yes, our heroine is over 27) artist living in a New York City loft (headline: Former Manhattanite here suffers pangs of envy). Lu has two best friends, Truman "True" Erickson and her gal, Dawn. A foursome in high school, their numbers decreased by one with the tragic death of Lu's brother, and ever since, our hero and the heroine have suffered secret guilt and blame because of it.

When the story begins, Lu has read some bad news on one of her social media accounts about her beloved Keanu Reeves — he's getting married, and she won't have it! Of course, she's never met him. It's just that she's been in full crush-mode since high school (a condition I understand completely, by the way). And her love is real — she keeps a folder full of his films, one click away from viewing any time day or night.

A happily single woman and a working artist, Lu also is facing a big decision about her career: A too-sweet-to-ignore job offer has come her way from a wealthy CEO, but the man and his deal rub her the wrong way. Combined with the hard-to-swallow news about Keanu, Lu feels frazzled, and eventually comes to the only possible conclusion: She has to stop the wedding.

True, or "Mr. Erickson" as Lu calls him when she's agitated, lives in the same building as Lu. He's a writer, a professor, and a friend she can count on. He's also secretly in love with her, and has been since — he can't remember how long. But he wouldn't dare risk their friendship by making a move. Besides, he believes she doesn't think of him that way. Moreover, there's that blame and guilt to contend with.

K.M. Jackson (who also writes as Kwana Jackson) has created an endearing heroine in Lu and a sensitive, sexy hero in True. Lu is feisty, sharp-tongued, basically sane, but wonderfully quirky and True is a man who values friendship and loves deeply.

One of Lu's troublesome habits is slipping up and saying things out loud that should have stayed as thoughts. Jackson uses this little foible masterfully, adding humor, wild foot-in-mouth scenes, some heartfelt reveals — and delicious tension in some of the book's sexier moments.

She also employs some classic romantic comedy tropes. One of my favorite old Hollywood movies is It Happened One Night, starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. They play strangers on the run, opposites whose attraction is amped up by their forced proximity. In Jackson's story, friends-to-lovers is the main trope, but Lu and True's stay in a square-footage-deprived camper adds some forced proximity flair as their search for Keanu keeps delivering surprises.

From start to finish, you'll be thinking about love, happy-ever-afters, and Keanu Reeves — and what else do you need?

Humor runs across every page, like this character description that had me laughing out loud: "Tall. Piercing green eyes. Devastating smile. Shoulders you could possibly land a small plane on." Also, there's a party full of Keanu's famous friends and a special guest appearance when some folks I can only describe as MARVELous (no spoilers, I swear) show up. If you are a fan of comic book heroes or movie stars — and who isn't — you'll LOVE the bathroom scene.

The Keanu film references are perfect, too, and run the gambit of his career. In addition to The Matrix, you'll be able to spot My Own Private Idaho, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Speed, The Devil's Advocate. Lu even named her dog Morphie after Morpheus in The Matrix.

From start to finish, you'll be thinking about love, happy-ever-afters, and Keanu Reeves — and what else do you need?

Denny S. Bryce is the author of the historical novel Wild Women and the Blues.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.