ImaJinn, $8.50, ISBN 1-893896-01-3
Fantasy Romance, 1999
Authors Miriam Pace and Jacqueline Hamilton, writing as JM Jeffries, have a great idea. Cupid and his mom Venus are ordered to match an unlikely couple in Cupid: The Amorous Arrow as a punishment for bungling up their jobs once too often (well, Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, and Liz Taylor and her many ex-hubbies can now stop blaming themselves, and let’s not start with the Samson and Delilah fiasco).
Unfortunately, something has gone wrong somewhere, and this one ends up something there’s not quite witty or funny. It has more of a dumbed down type of humor. Two ways awkward, some ways funny, but all in all, just awkward.
Cupid: The Amorous Arrow has our intrepid bungler duo trying to match Amberlin O’Rourke, plumber, with Jeremy Barrett, old money whiz kid. Amberlin’s aunt is carrying out a decades-old vendetta against the Barrett in her one-woman attempt to steal from the Barrett department store into bankruptcy. Jeremy catches Auntie Cecilia in action one day, but is bewildered when his grandfather only chuckles indulgently at Cecilia’s antics.
What is going on?
Whatever it is, that old lady has to be stopped. Solution? Operation Match Aunt Cecilia with Grandpa Frederick. Amberlin’s a somewhat reluctant conspirator, but have no fear. Our dear Cupidano and Venusia (guess who they really are, darlings) will make sure that everyone’s married by hook or by crook to their Mr and Miss Right by the end of the story.
Problem is, the authors seem not to know what to do with the potentially wonderful characters they have at their hands. Cupid and Venus are relegated into comic relief, while the four main characters have little personality whatsoever. Jeremy’s a one-note Mr Perfect, Amberlin’s Ms Insecure from page one to end, and the two old coots are extra comic relief materials.
I won’t have any problems with that if the humor is well-done, of course. But the first half of the book just feels forced, exacerbated by the stilted writing that seems determined to wring every drop of potential laughter from me in every scene. Toilet bowls just don’t get plugged up, they overflow and cause a flood.
The humor and style flows better in the later half – perhaps the authors are getting into the spirit of their story – but it’s a bit too late to redeem the story from its awkward first half. And Amberlin is pretty irritating – what’s all this insecurity, girl? She’s a plumber, so what? It’s not something to be ashamed of! There’s little credible motivation as to why Amberlin would think Jeremy won’t find her worthy of any affectionate hugs, hence dragging their whole relationship into a “What is this?!!” affair.