St Martin’s Press, $6.50, ISBN 0-312-97895-2
Contemporary Romance, 2001
The way St Martin’s Press is marketing Cheryl Anne Porter’s contemporary debut (“ingeniously funny!”) I could be forgiven if I expect to get a rip-roaring hilarious romance. Unfortunately, Mad about Maddie is (a) not funny, (b) not original, (c) not interesting, (d) not cute, and it (e) doesn’t even have a fat doggie to make things palatable. All in all, not good.
The story is so predictable. Ditsy Maddie Copeland has a thing about guys and happy endings. She’s sure she will never have them because she has a lousy track record, et cetera. The only she can find is an old guy named James. But fear not, Readers of Genteel Feminine Morals (and unfortunately for those who’d like to read about a brainy heroine for a change), she and he are just good friends, you know. He dies, and the story begins with Maddie trying not to laugh at his funeral. I suggest stuffing a fist up the mouth. Then again, maybe that will be too much for the poor priest.
James, being the meddlesome old coot, just have to leave a will that forces his workaholic grandson Henry “Hank” Madison III to come down to Hanscomb Harbor (Maddie’s hometown) and stay for six weeks, during which he must answer to Maddie. Maddie? She must be the latest gold digger, Hank decides. He really overestimates the brainpower of romance heroines so much, I tell you. Too bad he too is not immune to the power of the Ditsy Dazzle.
Hmm, where shall I start? How about the complete lack of originality? Dotty old biddies, busybody matchmaking friends, all the ghoulish plethora of contemporary romance clichés are trotted out in full regalia, as if the author fears that she will never write another contemporary romance again. Yes, there’s even a cute little missive from James saying he is so glad he sees the two person he loves in a happy marriage at the end. Awww. That is so sweet, I think my cavities are showing.
Then there’s this weird tendency of the author to build up things towards a grand scene, only to have the grand scene recounted in flashbacks and passive voice. That doesn’t help me in keeping awake in a story already close to driving me to snoozeville.
I don’t know, really. I don’t even remember anything about Maddie and Hank to even criticize them, because they are really stock characters. I just remember that this book isn’t funny at all (not one chuckle even from me), much less interesting, zany, hilarious, or fun. This book is seriously one for the list of compulsory reading for insomniacs.