by Roberta Gayle, contemporary (2000)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-108-1
One of the common criticism leveled at the romance genre is that it isn't real. It isn't real in that the two main characters are allowed to wallow in their emotions to the exclusion of real life, job, stress, i.e. for these people, life stops after love.
Well, Mad About You is just that sort of romance novel, and egads, it isn't very fun. Sure, escapism is what some readers want, yadda yadda yadda, but when a story focuses on two people's self-pity and inferiority ball to the exclusion of everything else, well, I wonder where the exit is.
Regina "Reggie" Primm is overweight and feels her biological clock ticking at the age of 33. She is a PR officer who is thrilled when she finds herself representing her dream man, former NFL hero Langston Downs. There's nothing to stop them from running off to Vegas for a quickie elopement except for their insecurities.
Reggie feels herself overeducated - at 33, she's a former professor, a language prodigy, teaches creative writing, and her hobby is correcting everybody's grammar. She is also overweight and she wonders if any man would ever accept her as she is. For him, he doesn't have a college degree, and boy, that is one BIG sticking point to him.
It is frustrating to read of these two's push and pull game. The pace is as slow as a handicapped snail's crawl with their tentative courtship. I find myself sighing in relief when they seem to be finally making peace with each other's fault - "Thank God!" - but then no, real life intrudes (re: the paparazzi) and the two run away scuttling back to step one all over again. Aaaarggghhh! It's like following the extremely slow rehabilitation of two determined neurotics.
Maybe it's a testament to the author's skill that she has me hanging on to every word of hers in this story. I get so involved that I get exasperated enough at the characters' continuous dithering after all. It's just that instead of making me sigh, Mad About You drives my blood pressure all the way to the next galaxy. Reggie loves Oprah, can't she go buy that woman's self-help book or something?
I finish the book sincerely hoping that these two don't face any more conflicts in their future years together. I don't get this impression that they can handle conflicts well, and that is never a good thing in a romance novel.
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