Zebra, $6.99, ISBN 0-8217-7224-4
Contemporary Romance, 2001
A Capital Holiday is supposed to be Janet Dailey’s update on that old movie Roman Holiday. She refers to the movie in the story quite often. But alas, this story is capital punishment for anyone but fans of TV evangelists. Preachy, saccharine, and filled with weird, loopy dialogues espoused by flat characters, this story is just nauseatingly treacly.
But to be fair, Jocelyn Wakefield, daughter of the widowed President of the United States, is a much more credible creation that Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s heroine in First Lady. Jocelyn actually actively participates in causes she believes in, and while there is the obligatory comparison of her to Jackie O and Lady Di, Jocelyn actually does something other than to mope, please Daddy in some sick hang-up thing, and take care of babies. Unfortunately, she isn’t interesting in any other way. Okay, confess, did Jenna Bush commission this story?
Jocelyn is tired of her life and decides to take a break come Christmastime. Donning a costume, she decides to live life as a normal person for one day. She meets political columnist Grady Tucker, falls in love, decides to get married – all in one day! And my disbelief chokes to death from being suspended so high for so long.
Firstly, I know, this is a romance, but really! I can overlook the lack of any actual political references (I don’t even know which party Jocelyn is aligned to), but I draw a line at the author making Grady the Romantic Times reviewer equivalent of a political analyst. Oh please, playing hardball in politics is a good thing. Politics are populated by more weasels than noble heroes, and if I have a hero going “Five stars! Five hearts!” at every Bill passed by the Senate, I am going to hurl.
But more nauseating is the story, which when it isn’t a travelogue on Washington DC (really – there are descriptions of each landmark, where the landmarks are, the history of each landmarks), it is a saccharine True Meaning of Christmas ramble. When these characters aren’t narrating the history of Washington DC landmarks to each other ( these people live in the place, for goodness sake!), they are acting like egg-laying hens squawking over the meaning of Christmas. Put in an obnoxious Santa Claus wannabe named Obediah, who keeps adding to the sermon and it’s like being trapped in a bad TV evangelist marathon.
And gosh, Brady! What a tool. The author tries to make him a simple, homegrown boy who just wants to be a Romantic Times reviewer, but his “Good golly! No siree Bob!” yammerings are enough to make me scream in agony. His lines are pure corn, and he makes my skin crawl. When Mr Corn and Ms Travelogue Exposition and that Obediah “Oh Bloody Arse” Claus get together, Christmas dies an excruciating death.
Maybe we should get rid of politics in romance altogether, if romance authors think that “Shut up if you can’t be nice!” philosophies actually have a place in politics. A Capital Holiday insults me, cheeses me, and makes me nauseated all in one go. A capital punishment indeed.