Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7110-8
Contemporary Romance, 2001
Making Over Mike could use a makeover of its own. No, not just a makeover, a complete overhaul in image. The author has the idea, and this story could have turned out a decent (and typical) screwball funny if the pacing isn’t so flawed. Maybe not flawed, but too circular. The plot just goes around in circles until I get dizzy.
Heroine Amanda Connor is your typical harried, underachieving, ambitious businesswoman whose image consultant company Aspirations will go under if she doesn’t make her latest idea work. Her idea? Have the local radio station track a client for a month in some “How make-overs can change your life!” sort of feature. And to get the ball rolling, Amanda holds a raffle – come get a ticket, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be given the makeover for free.
Meanwhile, at the other end of town, macho stud Mike Cavaco has just been fired from his chef job (April Fool’s joke gone awry – don’t ask) and is now driving a cab to make ends meet. He finds sixteen tickets for the raffle stuffed in the backseat one day – people aren’t as insecure or needy as Amanda thinks they are – and decides to return them to Amanda. Amanda sees him and – yes! Make-over time! Bring on the mascara!
Okay, not mascara. Amanda becomes his “Life Coach”, telling him that he must – he must! – let her do this. And Mike reluctantly agrees – he needs a job anyway, and if a new look can help him there, why not. But no mascara! And no lipstick! And no sissy pansy French-artiste-limp-wrist thingies – Mike is Man, he is Macho.
Okay, this can be fun. But the author just couldn’t get beyond the one note characters of Mike (angry, frustrated at his unemployable status) and Amanda (frustrated, harried, doesn’t trust sex or her own body). Amanda and Mike argue a lot because both refuse to compromise. Fine, but the thing is, they argue about the same darned thing again and again and again and again and one more time, again. Mike doesn’t want to live life the way Mandy wants him to. Mandy needs Mike to live the way she wants him to because her livelihood depends on it. They seem to make up on this chapter. No, they are at it again two pages down the road. Then they make up – smooch, smooch. Then they are at it again.
It’s gets really old very fast, and the cacophony from the squabbling children can be really annoying. I’m okay with Mike and Mandy being typical, inadequately-developed characters of a typical, average contemporary funny – it’d have gotten a decent – if typical – grade from me. If the author has taken the time to vary the pace and rhythm, that is. Going around in circles non-stop give me a bad headache – someone stop this silly carousel ride before I throw up.