Dell, $6.99, ISBN 0-440-23542-1
Contemporary Fiction, 2000 (Reissue)
It’s been awhile since I go “Eeuw!” at a heroine, much less feel this need to step back a million steps from her. Handyman has a heroine who could teach codependency at university level, heck, she could probably give seminars on it if she could get a spine to start her own business. I feel really suffocated on behalf of the hero Jake Cooper – any man who could tolerate such a clingy poison ivy of a woman deserves a medal of valor.
Maggie Ives is one sad woman. Stuck in an underpaid, overworked job, trying to bring up her ill kid, no insurance, living in a slummy area, she lives day by day moping and wondering if a man would ever come by and rescue her from her life. When a friend finally decides to have mercy on her and pay for her therapy, our heroine, not exactly a lightbulb of wisdom, mistakes the handyman Jake as “Dr Golding” and proceeds to sob her heart out. After all, he’s handsome, so he must be the shrink, right?
Pathetic, really. I mean, look at her go eek eek eek, her life is so horrible, eek eek eek.
Jake pities her and starts fixing her problems. Bad boss? Let Jake handle it, dear. Ill kid? Jake will see to it. No self-esteem? Let Jake fix it too. And Maggie, she clings, grateful, pathetically grateful. How like a man to solve her problems! Ooh, ooh, she’s going to go eek, eek, eek again.
Jake can’t tell her he’s no shrink. Of course he can’t. I don’t blame him. The idea of Maggie going eek eek eek makes me feel quite ill too. So he tells her around, oh, a chapter or two before the last? But Maggie, who takes codependency to new Alpha Centauri heights and distances, just eek eek eeks for a while before forgiving him. Heck, with her survival skills (I wonder how she crosses the street without getting mowed down by a truck or something, since she is that clueless), she can’t afford not to.
Handyman is exactly the poster book for every unfair accusation that critics levelled at the romance genre. Ironically, these same critics lavishly praise at this book, which is marketed as “fiction” by the way. Oh really? So a book with a 10-year old child trapped in a woman’s body being saved from her troubles by the hero (and nary an action on her part) is “the perfect Valentine fantasy” while a romance novel nurtures female submissiveness and codependency?
I wonder what these people are smoking, really.