Courting Cupid
by Charlotte Maclay, paranormal (1999)
Harlequin Love & Laughter, $3.50, ISBN 0-373-44061-8

Women may have been empowered and liberated in these enlightened times, but up there in the Celestial Heaven, male angels still pretty much run the show. Celestial being Eloise Peabody is determined to show those male chauvinist... beings that women are a force to be reckoned with. She'd be the best angel in Cupid's Celestial Division!

Never mind that Eloise is reassigned to the Department. She's a hopeless twit, bungling up every mission she is assigned. I'm not joking. When she's assigned to match-make Blake Donovan with his rival Margaret Wykowski, she is delighted, being the die-hard romantic that she is.

Now, I'm a proclaimed romantic but the day I let my brains turn to mush like Eloise did to hers, somebody put me out of my misery. She's a total nitwit. If you think I'm harsh, consider the fact that as a matchmaker, she is as subtle as a herd of elephants running amok in one's living room. The author really let a potentially wonderful story ruined by the mistaken belief that total naivety (read: stupidity) equals virtue. Sure angels can't lie, but that doesn't mean they must barrage into their target and proclaim as clear as daylight you are a very lovable man, let's be friends, and oh, you must fall in love with Margaret, she's perfect for you. The first rule of matchmakers is Be subtle. Nitwit.

Worse, an angel who has existed for 1000 years, worked in - and sacked from - every conceivable human welfare services department in Heaven and can't understand simple human turn of phrases? Doesn't know baseball? Doesn't know prominent geography and the running of a simple corporation? I forgot. Eloise's a nitwit.

Blake's employer is a multimillionaire and a successful businessman with global dealings... who makes all his top officers waste time playing treasure hunt on his island and make business decisions verging on bizarre stupidity. Yes, totally believable. It is close to 2000 and matchmaking angels still rely on arrows. Why not heat-seeking missiles? Guess what Eloise did with her arrows.

Even at the end, Eloise hasn't grown up or grown a brain. She still prattles on dangerously, telling the future of their unborn son to anyone who listens. Can we say madhouse?

Now, I'm not a anti-fantasy person. I adore fantasy and science fiction, I adore unrealistic stuff. But this! I usually am a reader totally oblivious to inaccuracies and errors the author makes, but when I start tallying up all the ridiculous nonsense in the book, I know I'm going to pitch this book back to the UBS bag as soon as possible. The heroine is unbelievably clueless, to borrow my granddaughter's jargon, and she gets rewarded for her stupidity. Perhaps I should be grateful that at the end Eloise doesn't turn Head Archangel or something. Now that would be scary.

Rating: 10

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