Bantam Loveswept, $2.75, ISBN 0-553-44144-2
Contemporary Romance, 1992
Sol Standish is a marine who has been corresponding with Mariah Garnet for a while now through Operation Dear Abby. This book was published in 1992, so it was all letters instead of emails. These two feel that they may be very much in love, and when Sol believes that he may be dying while on the tour of duty, he marries Mariah via telephone. And then he dies.
Okay, he doesn’t die, duh. He comes back to America in crutches, however, and he worries that he may not be able to walk and therefore be a burden to Mariah. As for Mariah, she has some secrets that she has to hide from Sol, and it remains to be seen whether these secrets can tear these two apart for good. They may be married, but they haven’t spent much time together. Can their relationship work?
After his understandable initial bout of self pity, Sol becomes a more interesting hero because he takes an active role in trying to walk again and make his marriage with Mariah work. His determination makes him a pretty romantic hero, actually, and he’s also smarter than I initially expected him to be. He knows that Mariah is hiding something, but he’s willing to wait for her to come clean to him. He does make some silly moves now and then, but he is a genius compared to Mariah.
Oh dear, Mariah. Where do I even start?
She is the privileged daughter of a wealthy family who feels trapped by the fact that she is a prodigy constantly under tight supervision and control especially by her father. That’s not so bad, her feeling of being trapped in a gilded cage, but she then goes ahead and marries Sol without telling her parents. Her plan so far is, basically, hide away with Sol and pray that her parents don’t come back so soon from their trap to drag her back home. Is this wretch for real? Her efforts to lie are horrible, her “secrets” are often unnecessary, and given that she is legally an adult, I don’t know why she acts like her parents have full control over her and she has no say in anything in her life. While Sol is trying to make the relationship work, she behaves like a little girl who is playing truant from school. The discrepancy in maturity between these two characters is very jarring.
It’s really too bad that Mariah never seems to be more than a very sheltered wretch who desperately needs someone to take care of her and ensure that she wouldn’t put herself in any hint of trouble by thinking. She’s the kind of heroine who needs to do herself a favor by never, ever letting another thought cross her brain ever again.
I Do! has a hero who can be pretty swoon-inducing at times, but it is also a story where the bulk of the work is carried by the hero. The heroine exists to create all kinds of drama by keeping secrets and getting all worked up over issues that could have been resolved if there is better communication between them. It’s hard to muster much enthusiasm for a romance story where the heroine is clearly a plot device rather than an organic character.