Gallery Books, $15.00, ISBN 978-1-4391-8815-6
Contemporary Romance, 2010
Goodnight Tweetheart is Teresa Medeiros’s first published contemporary romance, I think. Yes, she wrote two paranormal romances that featured characters from present day once upon a time for Bantam, but as far as I can recall, this is her first straightforward contemporary romance. However, there isn’t much basis in reality when it comes to this story. It’s pure escapism, from the first page to last. It’s, in fact, what I’d call a romantic movie of a book rather than a romance novel, because of how it follows the conventions of a romantic movie more than the standard rules of a romance novel.
In case you are wondering, this book goes back and forth between third person narration from Abby’s point of view and Twitter exchanges between Mark and Abby. It’s a short book, a gimmicky one, but it’s still a romantic story through and through.
Abigail Donovan is a kind of heroine that one would imagine to look like Meg Ryan on a good day. She had written a book that was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey and came this close to winning the Pulitzer prize once upon a time. Basking in her fifteen minutes, she rents a very expensive apartment in one of the most expensive cities on Earth – Manhattan – and sends her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother to an expensive care facility. However, it has been four years since her last book, and now, she is struggling with writer’s block while apparently having no other means of supporting herself.
However, her impending financial disaster isn’t of a particular concern in this story, neither is her failing career. This, is, after all, a wonderful fantasy story where the heroine can live in expensive apartments and pay off those bills with money that apparently refill magically, probably after every time the heroine sits on her toilet bowl. No, what is more important is how Abigail, upon embarking on the world of Twitter at the urging of her agent, falls for the first person she meets, Mark Baynard. He’s a witty and erudite literature professor who is taking a sabbatical to work on his novel at coffee bistros all over the world. How can any woman resist her first online love, especially this man?
For a book that reminds me several times that Twitter allows the use of up to 140 characters only in the text box, this one blatantly has, right from the start, quite a number of exchanges between our two sweethearts that go beyond 140 characters. Yes, I counted, so go ahead and laugh at me. The way the author throws the “140 characters” thing at me, it’s like a challenge for me to start counting, so I did.
Also, I’m not sure about the author’s assertion that when you direct a tweet at someone using the “@” sign, other people can’t read what you are writing. Take it from me: I was once a reluctant observer to some very frank talk between some married people, talk that I’m sure their spouses would not appreciate, and I wasn’t even logged in – all those “@”s flying about did nothing to protect the privacy of the participants. As I tell my friends, be careful when talking about sexy things on Twitter. Somewhere out there, at least one of your followers is touching himself inappropriately while reading your words. Of course, if getting someone off is your thing, talk away – don’t let me spoil the fun.
Back to this story, Mark and Abby commit the mistake most people on Twitter do – most of the time, they believe that their exchanges are just between the two of them. But that’s okay, because their Twitter exchanges are… I don’t know. It’s like me walking into a shop full of adorable teddy bears only to be told that I can take anything I want from that shop for free. “Precious” and “cute” don’t adequately describe their exchanges. They make me laugh, go “Awww, that’s so sweet!”, and later in the story, sigh and bite my fingernails before I catch myself and wonder what is wrong with me. I’m a cynic, but Ms Medeiros plays me like a violin so much that it’s a wonder I didn’t start collecting Precious Moments figurines after I’d finished this book. I was feeling that sentimental all inside, and it felt great.
The conflict late in the story is very predictable and, in my opinion, a bit silly. While I understand why Abby feels hurt when she realizes that Mark fudged some details about his life during their correspondence, especially after she’d poured her heart out to him, come on. He’s a man fighting for his life and dealing with excruciating pain on a daily basis – does she expect him to tell her that? I can understand why Mark wouldn’t reveal that part of his life to Abby – how could he, when he could very well scare her away and therefore lose those daily Twitter exchanges that give him temporary reprieve from his pain and his uncertain future? In this context, I think it is quite petty for Abby to make everything about her when Mark is the one who needs her more than she needs him. Besides, he’s cute and funny. What’s a little white lie between strangers on the Web, eh? Still, the conflict doesn’t last long, and more importantly, it catalyzes a beautifully bittersweet heartwarming ending that has me tearing up unexpectedly.
Some readers don’t like the lack of a clear-cut happy ending in this book, and I can see where they are coming from, but for me, that ending is perfect because it has me tearing up while making stupid happy sounds like an overwrought idiot. I’d even overlook that blasphemous statement by Ms Medeiros that Frodo and Sam are just friends – everyone knows they’re boinking right now in that gold-hued land filled with music by Enya, whatever that place is called – because, yikes, just look at how ridiculous I am being right now.
Maybe it’s because this book crossed my path at the right time and right place, I don’t know, but I do know that Goodnight Tweetheart is a romantic escapist fantasy that makes me laugh and cry, allowing me to just feel. Yes, this is a short book that costs $15.00, but by the last page, I think the vicarious escape is definitely worth every cent that I paid for this book.