by Heather Cullman, historical/paranormal (2001)
Signet (Lords of Danger), $4.99, ISBN 0-451-20229-5

The opening chapter of Bewitched has two old biddies plotting. Adeline Vane will marry her supposedly mad grandson to Euphemia Merriman's supposedly hoyden granddaughter. To cement the inevitable, they will make plans to go ahead with telling the future couple of their impending nuptials at the bottom of the wedding plans.

With grandmothers like these, who need car accidents?

It gets more complicated: Michael Vane isn't actually mad. He's just plagued by seizures made worse by incompetent quacks. Emily believes herself cursed: her three ex-beaus barely escaped with their lives. A match made in heaven, according to our two senile biddies who claim to love Michael and Emily.

In fact, come to think of it, Bewitched isn't Michael and Emily's story. It's a showcase for Addie and Effie's irritating attempts at portraying dotty. Some of their schemes are downright infuriating, especially Addie's incessant browbeating and emotional manipulation of Michael until she got her way. Both Addie and Effie's characters are inconsistent when it comes to Emily: sometimes they ooh-ed and aah-ed about her, but most of the time they are more intent on demonizing and terrorizing her into doing things their way. Likewise, the way these two old women gush over Mike's perfect looks and perfect body and perfect prowess with the ladies give me the creeps. Addie is his grandmother, for Chrissakes, and here she is lamenting how Mike gives the ladies the jibbies no more. Brrrrrr!

Mike is ridiculously one-note: he seems mad at his circumstances because he is no longer the toast of the town, and he blames the heroine for reminding him of his great loss with her beauty. Yes, the pain of not being able to sleep with married women of the Ton, the agony of no more gambling sessions at White's, and oh, the excruciating loss of his social life! Oh, Mikey, I feel for your pain, truly. Let me know when to pull the plug, and you bet I'll be there ASAP.

Emily is just as ridiculous a character as Mike. A curse? There seems to be no reason why a woman like her, supposedly intelligent, would believe a gypsy's word from the get go. If you ask me, the real curse is Em's lack of spine. She meekly obeys everything the mad biddy twosome orders her to, sulking to herself. Her psychological baggages are irritatingly familiar: doesn't want to love him, can't love him for his own good, must drive him away/run away herself for his own good... look, Em, hide here, hide here! Hide in this hollow log, and I'll push you over the cliff. Bet no one will ever find you at the bottom.

My single reaction to Bewitched is incessant, monotonous irritation. Sometimes I think old people don't get enough respect from young people. After reading Bewitched, I will even volunteer to drive the two old biddies to some faraway old folks' home as long as I don't have to read about their "cute, dotty, and adorable" but in all actuality "disgustingly Machiavellian, rude, obnoxious, and downright repulsive" Hee hee hee antics. Maybe a better title for this book is Witched. Or the B alternative.

Rating: 38

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