Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-8041-1960-0
Contemporary Romance, 2002
If you see a broken reader flopped on the floor, shrieking in a raspy voice for water, that’s me after reading Lynn Michaels’s Mother of the Bride, a roller-coaster ride of non-stop heroine humiliation that has me gasping for breath.
In the first chapter alone, heroine Cydney Parrish is late for an interview, gets sexually harrassed, has a headache the size of Greenland, breaks her heel, twists her ankle over a grape, runs out of checks and forgets her cards and so causes a jam at the check-out line, finds her niece in bed with a boy she declares she is going to marry, learns that her mother is remarrying again, learns that her sister is also marrying, drops a carton of eggs on her shoes as a result, and I clutch my chest as I die of cardiac arrest.
Cydney is the quissential middle whine-child, and be warned, she will spend almost the entire novel whining about how she always has to be the responsible one, how she hates her life (and her job and her responsibilities and her existence), how she will never get married, how she wants to get married too, how she will never be happy ever thanks to her family, so why the hell can’t they appreciate her, blah blah blah. It is amusing for three chapters, but excruciating for thirty chapters. No doubt some readers will find Cydney’s grating whining “great self-effacing self-pity” or something equally worthy of affections, but I just wish for her to shut the hell up.
Meanwhile, the niece who is getting married, Bebe, has a future-uncle-in-law, Angus Monroe, who is not at all happy with his nephew’s upcoming nuptials. Why? He is certain that Bebe is out to fleece his nephew, so he comes charging in and acting like a prime A+ jackass. Since Lynn Michaels is too busy creating slapstick funnies to develop the romance (who has the time, right?), she decides to make Cydney having a big case of hero-worship for Angus, a reclusive but world-renowned writer, since forever. Cydney even has Angus’s pictures in a shrine in her house, and when Angus stumbles upon it, Cydney’s humiliation is complete.
To be fair, there are some moments in this story, when Cydney stop being so self-absorbed and quit whining about her life and when Angus stops being such a low-life, judgemental asshole, that Mother of the Bride show some wonderful scenes. That quiet moment when he asks her to run away with him and she suggests Outer Mongolia, for example, hints at a couple who, despite being surrounded by madcap relatives, are actually lonelier than everyone believe them to be. Then she’s back at her look-at-me-pity-me act, the relatives start their cacophony of madcap antics again, and what little genuine emotion this story has is again lost in the crazy madcap loony show that follows.
It’s a waste, really. Lynn Michaels does hint that she can create a genuinely warm yet funny romantic comedy, if some scenes in this thing is anything to go by, but in trying too hard to out-Elizabeth Bevarly all her more established rivals in the market, she pretty much loses sight of the forest for the trees.