LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52471-6
Mixed Genre Romance, 2002
A Mother’s Way is all about Mommy matchmaking their sons or daughters. I’m sure, on paper, this is a fool-proof concept. Every aspiring funnybone author has lynched, murdered, and sucked dry this plot device already. Unfortunately, reading about these women having no life except to be comic relief or to carp on their kids’ love life makes me want to kill myself. Please, give mothers a freaking break and some pride!
Anyway, this anthology is a mixed bag of two historical novellas and two fantasy contemporary novellas. It is also nicely arranged from “average” to “somewhat not that average” to “okay just a bit more than somewhat average” to “hey that’s not so bad if it isn’t just somewhat above somewhat above average”. Yes, this is Mother’s Day in four amazing shades of average. And probably the saddest thing is, most of these novellas will rise above the average quagmire if Mommy isn’t featured so prominently in them. The only ones that manage to integrate Mommy cohesively into the stories are Lynsay Sands’s and Susan Grant’s novellas.
Lynsay Sands starts the show with Mother, May I? and yes, it’s just as bad as the title suggests. It’s about a mother of the heroine who plots with the father of the hero to play lovers so that the heroine and hero will mash face and make babies for Mommy Dearest. Apart from this author’s remarkable feat of cramming enough modern lingo in just 90 pages to offend, insult, and make medieval romance fans take up arms, this silly story is all about four crazy people chasing each other in circles just like intoxicated horny puppies. Round and round and round and round and round they go in a most unfunny way.
Next, Lisa Cach’s The Breeding Season, but no, it’s not as bad as the title suggests. This one has potential, because the heroine Evalina is a rake-wannabe in the 1700’s while Charles is a socially-inept guy who just wants to play with his horses. No, that horse thing isn’t what you think, so please sit down and stop drooling. Anyway, these two characters are sweet on their own, and I’m sure they will meander their way into their own happy endings soon. After all, they two have some chemistry despite their bad start.
But the mothers! Charles’s mother is the worst. Her annoying speech defect is played for laughs (“Char-wles! Char-wles! Char-wles!”) but her matchmaking actions are not the dotty, benevolent kind. In fact, both mothers are ruthless and just plain evil in the 666 way on their kids. If they are not careful, they may just end up in some daycare home with the kids never visiting or calling.
Julie Kenner’s Seeking Single Superhero takes place in the same setting as her last book Aphrodite’s Kiss, with Mommy placing an ad for daughter Jennifer Martin, asking for a Protector (people who are like Superman) hubby candidate. Our hero Starbuck (er…) has a crush on Jennifer for a long time now, but Jen’s mother Daphne is a prime suspect in some Betrayal Conspiracy so oh, what to do?
This is not bad, and the characters don’t display chronic brainsucked syndrome like this author’s previous books. Unfortunately, Daphne and Starbuck have more chemistry together than Jennifer and Starbuck. Look, I know the Mrs Robinson thing isn’t cool in romance, because old ladies after 40 are supposed to be lobotomized free from sexual impulses, but… sigh.
Susan Grant, the only author with the ability to come up with a decent title in this anthology, closes the show with The Day Her Heart Stood Still. Awww. I pause awhile to shake off that Titanic song, which for some unknown reason, start playing in my head.
This is a Starman-like novella, about a space dude named Zefer who crashed into astronaut Andromeda (please, Andie, call her Andie) Del Sarto’s life one fine night in Roswell.
Andie is back in Roswell to visit her mother Cassie (short for Cassiopeia) and father Frank (I don’t think Frank is short for anything, unless someone named a star Frankfurter while I’m not looking) before heading on to a mission on Mars. Mom is an UFO-enthusiast, and she runs a dotty UFO-hunt club with other dotty senior-citizens.
What happens is a comet hits Roswell. No wait, it’s not a comet, it’s a spacecraft. Mommy Cassie brings back the alien dude survivor, who looks like Jeff Bridges probably instead of Chewbacca, and they all start to do stupid things. Like leaving Andie in the same room overnight with Zefer here even when they are “just sure” that he is a nice alien and not some host for that Alien thing gestating in its stomach. Still, even if my disbelief suffocates into a quick death from being suspended so long, I really like this one. It’s not amazing, since everyone who has watched Starman or fancies himself or herself a multiple UFO abductee will know the drill, but the ending chapters just sing. And Mr Mercury is cool too. I want one for myself.
All in all, this is an anthology with more wasted opportunities than home runs.