The Harder They Fall
by Trish Jensen, contemporary (1997)
Harlequin Love And Laughter, $3.50, ISBN 0-373-44024-3

I confess: I don't usually enjoy slapstick comedies. Sure, some intentional physical comedy is fun, but slapstick comedies tend to go overboard with the overacting. Sometimes I prefer subtlety. Then again, I adored There's Something About Mary (it gets my vote as one of the most romantic movies of 1998), so sometimes I can't figure out my own self. Oh well.

By Chapter 1, Darcy Welham has grabbed Michael Davidson's family jewels not too gently, dropped grilled tuna right on the precious Davidson scepter of glory, crashes crockery around him, hits him in the face with a tray, and falls flat on her shapely buttocks. All in three pages. Okay, I thought it was a hoot. But eventually I realized my worst fears are confirmed.

Darcy Welham is a klutz. A poor little rich girl klutz who suffers from the Ditz syndrome. There are good Ditzes - Sandra Bullock's Lucy in While You Were Sleeping is good Ditz. Darcy is bad Ditz. The Ditz that requires everyone around her to mollycoddle, pamper, and soothe her tears after she bungles up (yet again) another enterprise. The sort of Ditz who acts on sentimental reasons, logic and reason be damned. The type who acts kooky and sheds tears at the drop of a penny. These sort of Bad Ditzes never can convince me that they are older than 18.

So what do you call a man who find these sort of girlie behaviour sexually arousing? Creepy, that's what I call it. These are the guys who probably think that Trophy Wives Are The Best (The Younger The Better).

The plot? Darcy Welham is posing as a waitress in her father's restaurant in an attempt to learn the family business. So that Daddy won't sell to Michael. Never mind that everyone but her wants Daddy to sell the restaurant to Michael (with good reasons too). Darcy's mum loves the restaurant so darn it, Darcy must love it too and even if she has to burn the restaurant down in another of her accidents, she will not see her Daddy sell-out!

Admirable qualities, if Darcy shows some competency. If Darcy can demonstrate some sense of independence.

There are some great lines and repartees, but all in all, I still think bad Ditzes make lousy heroines.

I know, humor is subjective. I have a hard time accepting Elizabeth Bevarly's cornball heroines, so I'm not surprised when I find myself frowning at Darcy's helpless-little-girl act. But I'm sure somewhere out there are people who would love this sort of heroines. Me, I'd rather laugh with a heroine, not at, so if you'll excuse me, I have some old Colleen Collins to reread.

Rating: 50

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