by Inez Kelley, contemporary (2009)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-580-1
The hero in Inez Kelley's Jinxed is Jinx. Really. Frances "Frannie" Sullivan can't stand him ever since they met on the plane in the opening scene of this story, but for some reason, it takes only one session of dealing with her abrasive attitude to have Jinx convinced that she's made for him. Jinx's real name is Francis Sullivan, however, and no, I am not making things up, so when they end up accidentally taking home each other's luggage bag, they are definitely going to be meeting again.
This is a romantic comedy, an almost farcical one, and since it's very reliant on humor, this is a risk of the reader not getting the story at all due to the humor. Well, this is Ms Kelley's unlucky day indeed, because I definitely do not cozy up to her brand of in-your-face humor. I find lines like the following more annoying than funny. The first one, for example, has been done to death by bloggers who could use a new shtick. For the second line, I can't imagine anyone who speaks lines like this one as being not supremely irritating.
"Smugness, thy name is... whatever McHottie's name is."
"Lawdy-be, what powers of deduction you have there, Sherlock. And all without your Captain Marvel Decoder Ring! Be still, my beating heart."
Fortunately, after a few chapters, Ms Kelley settles down to a more spontaneous and less forced rhythm. She stops coming off as if she had been influenced by reading too many blogs and the prose starts flowing more smoothly without all those awful one-liners clogging up the place. Unfortunately, this leads to another problem. Look, I know Ms Kelley thinks that Frannie is "feisty". Jinx has mentioned that he finds her feisty and therefore he wants her. But Frannie's constant refusal to fall for Jinx is tedious. Ms Kelley has given Frannie an unhappy past to explain her behavior, but Ms Kelley only begins dropping information on Frannie's past in the last few chapters of this book! If the author has allowed me a glimpse into Frannie's unhappy past earlier in the story, I wouldn't have spent so much time while reading this book imagining that Frannie is deranged.
The in-your-face farcical humor and the way Frannie overreacts to everything are trying enough on my nerves, but the author's bewildering placement of details that would make Frannie a sympathetic character at close to the finishing line only makes things worse. The humor thing can be overlooked in this instance, since what doesn't work for me can easily work for you, but the technical aspects of the story, like its structure, are too unpolished to be dismissed as a subjective issue. Since this is Ms Kelley's debut effort, hopefully she will iron out in the next book some, if not all, of the technical issues plaguing her writing in this book.
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