Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-81048-4
Contemporary Romance, 2000
What you see is what you get seems to be the theme of the day, as least as far as How to Trap a Tycoon is concerned. The Jerry Springer-esque title (which conjures up images of money-hungry women with too much make-up mobbing Bill Gates, shudder) pretty much sets the tone of this story – a purely fluffy laugh-a-lot marathon that is fun while the laughter lasts, but completely forgettable afterwards.
The poster girl for the Modern Insecure Contemporary Romance Heroine, Dorsey MacGuinness, has written a book called How to Trap a Tycoon. It is a runaway hit, since we all know modern women are all desperate suckers for a man – any man! – inside. Cosmopolitan must be so proud of Dorsey. However, Dorsey is feeling guilty of her success (good heroines make apologies for becoming too successful), and in case those Guardians of Morality and Double Standards are balking already at Dorsey’s “experience in mercenary fishing”, be rest assured she is just like the billion insecure no-date no-sex heroines out there. She just “imagines”, of course, putting herself in her mother’s infamously colorful past for the material in the book.
And of course, heroines can’t do anything for fun, so obedient Dorsey is doing all this to get the money. For her mommy, of course.
While bartending, she overhears sexist pig and men’s mag editor Adam Darien’s plan to unmask the stupid woman who wrote that book. And her editor is pressuring her to keep a high profile and go on a national tour or something. Can love survive deception?
Hah! If the book’s theme is battle of the sexes, be assured that Adam and Dorsey are no Shakespearean lovers dueling wit and intrigue. Are you kidding? Dorsey’s a Good Heroine who follows the Duncan Mill Chop Shop Heroine Rules – she cannot even stand up for herself without apologizing profusely and sweating buckets in guilt. Instead of Beatrice and Bernedict, we have more of a soused-up Lassie’s less intelligent sister waiting in the rain howling for her master to take her in scenario. Not at all fun or pretty.
Not that I didn’t have fun reading How to Trap a Tycoon. The first quarter of the book, at least. The one-liners fly fast and loose, and I just can’t stop laughing my head off. Unfortunately, it runs out of steam soon enough – this is a trend I noticed in the previous two Avon romances by this author – no thanks to Dorsey being an absolute gumby when her life and her man/nemesis are concerned, and the increasing feel of Dorsey’s willing victimization by her circumstances the more I turn the pages.
How to Trap a Tycoon starts out a satire on The Rules but ends up being a victim of its own satire, no thanks to a heroine right out of The Rules. It’s even more disappointing because the author has a wonderful way with humor. So much talent, so much potential, all wasted on a half-baked attempt that only ends up making a laughingstock out of the heroine.
And the hero’s not too interesting either.