by Crystal Wilson-Harris, contemporary (2001)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-154-5
I suspect a reader's enjoyment of Good Intentions hinges on how much he or she enjoys romantic comedies like Picture Perfect starring Jennifer Aniston. You know the one, where this selfish but beautiful woman keeps this nice young man stringing along and even treats him badly as she waits for the unworthy man? Indeed, the heroine of Good Intentions, Ivy Daniels, can be self-absorbed at times that she treats all-rounder Mr Niceguy Ben Stephens rather badly.
If a reader can stand such whiny, self-absorbed "The world revolves around me and my social life" heroines, Good Intentions will be a charming read. Me, I loathed Picture Perfect, but I am won over by Ms Wilson-Harris' beautiful and even whimsical way with prose. She imbues in her characters a winning determination to believe in fairy tale love affairs even when everyone else's a skeptic, and I find that charming. But I have a hard time understanding Ben and Ivy's motivations for some of their actions in this story.
Ivy Daniels runs out on her bridegroom Keith Jamison on their wedding today. It's not just bridal jitters, she just realized that she's not in love with him. (I still think it's bridal jitters.) She encounters Ben on her getaway and he helps her untangle her wedding gown from the train she was trying to board to get home.
And guess what? Ivy left her house keys - and her purse - at the church. So Ben helps her break into her place, and a beautiful relationship follows from here. But when Ivy discovers that she is pregnant with Keith's child, she has to choose between Ben and Keith.
Ivy is a self-absorbed ditz whose actions often make it seems as if she is using Ben as a rebound toy. Maybe if the author hasn't made her meet Ben so soon after her fleeing the altar, I can buy Ivy's instant attraction to Ben better. I can understand why she feels the need to marry Keith for the sake of the child, but then again, this smack in Ben's face after all those lovey-dovey kissies they have indulged in is yet another thoughtless action on Ivy's part in hurting Ben. I wish someone would sit Ivy down and tell her to open her eyes and pull herself together, but that someone is obviously out of town.
Ben is pretty weird too. He tries to hide his relationship with Ivy from his mother. Mother keeps harping on him too not to forsake family for some woman. I try not to read anything Freudian in this relationship, and I prefer to think of Ben as a Momma's Boy. And I can't help feeling sorry for Ivy in this case, because I think a new bride's living hell will have to be dealing with that overbearing mother and her Momma's boy. Still, Ben is a genuinely nice guy, Oedipal overtones aside, and I can't help wishing he'll find something less Ally McBeal-like than Ivy.
Good Intentions never sink to the "Aaah! My blood pressure is boiling!" level, thanks to the author's writing style and easy humor. Which is why, I guess, I am not ripping away the pages of this book with my fangs. I can't help liking Ivy a little and I do think Ben's a cutie pie. And it's time nice guys that are respectful of their women finish first in romance stories. With a little tighter characterization and some believable motives on the character's actions, Good Intentions will be a pleasure.
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