by Stacy Dawn, contemporary (2007)
Forbidden Publications, $3.99, ISBN N/A
It is a good thing that Stacy Dawn's The Apple Of His Eye is short because I don't think I will enjoy this book as much if it goes on longer. The heroine Eden Rossi would have driven me crazy if this book is any longer. So yes, happily for everyone, this story ends beautifully on the dot, in just the right manner, and I can still smile without having to bare my fangs.
The story is a familiar one: rugged hero Shane Gallagher finds himself chaperoning his friend Brad's fiancée Erin Gallagher as she comes down to marry Brad come Valentine's Day. Brad is too busy with meetings and all even he's this close to marrying that woman, you see. Erin becomes indeed the apple of his eye, if we consider the apple the forbidden fruit that he's not allowed to take a bite from. And on Erin's part, the attraction is there too on her part. Oh dear, what will happen now?
The Apple Of His Eye is a story where the plot is so contrived it's actually ridiculous. Early on, I am told that Brad and Erin are very Logical People, which is to say, they decide to get married because they suit and the marriage will be based on an absence of messy feelings, et cetera. This entire premise is too absurd unless Erin really is lobotomized. How can any sane woman not realize that something is horribly wrong to enter a marriage for the reasons she and Brad come up with? I wish Ms Dawn allows even a little realism into this very contrived plot because this one currently ranks up there with thrice-widowed virgins as plot devices that should be banished into some black hole permanently.
However, Ms Dawn gets many other aspects right with her story. It's quite odd, really, how the fundamental premise of this story is too contrived beyond repair but Ms Dawn nonetheless tries hard to apply band-aids all over the leaks in her sinking ship of a story. Perhaps if she doesn't include the Titanic of an unbelievably contrived premise in her story, the band-aids will actually look very pretty. Erin and Shane bond in a convincing manner as he takes her on a trip around New York that's straight out of a pleasant romantic fairytale, complete with shy Erin finally finding how adorable Shane's family is and how poor lonely Erin, who was a latchkey kid after her mother died and her father became too caught up in work to be there in her life, finally realizes what it feels like to be surrounded by people who are all about the warm fuzzies. Awww. Shane is a very nice guy and his family come off like a happy clan of nice folks instead of sitcom stereotypes.
Erin's confusion is pretty real, I find, when she realizes that perhaps what she believed she wanted in life in all this while may not be what she is really looking for after all. She and Shane have a good thing going here, a developing attraction that feels real instead of being rushed and there is no gratuitous sex scene to disrupt the fairytale courtship of Erin.
The Apple In His Eye has a quaint and charming almost old-school romantic story feel to it, complete with wholesome warm fuzzies and that "finally, at last, that magical kiss" ending. It is too bad therefore that the heroine is set up to be wrong in such an obvious and overused yet implausible manner that this story never fully recovers from it. Ms Dawn tries valiantly, but I end up thinking that she's probably too good for stories such as this.
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