LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52356-6
Contemporary Romance, 2000
If I can overlook the glaring attempts at giving the heroine Candice Vanausdale a respectable motive for her none-too-respectable antics, I would have enjoyed Mr. Hyde’s Assets. As it is, Candice practically jumps through loops to be nice, too bad the only result is me rolling up my eyes.
Our hero Austin Hyde is a macho man whose theme song is probably that YMCA song. He isn’t too pleased when his nerdy brother Jack, who runs a fertility clinic, passes off Austin’s “assets” as the late Mr Vanausdale’s (the dead coot has zero sperm count). Candice wants a baby because she would need the baby as a court leverage to fight off her stepsons. Oh, and Candice does want a baby long before this. Of course. Anything you say, Candice – you’re the heroine here.
Austin isn’t too happy, but hey, ain’t that woman Candice hot or what? His Mr Wonky practically jumps out of his pants every time he looks at her. He thinks thst Candice is a conniving ho, but he is also somewhat concerned about his baby. So he gets himself hired as a handyman in Candice’s luxurious mansion.
Soon he finds himself protecting our vulnerable heroine from the press and realizes Candice isn’t such a bad woman after all. She marries her old, old, old husband for the right reason (not for money, of course, but for the practical reason like security and other rot – what, no welfare checks anymore in good old USA?). Love is in the air.
There are some good moments here but it’s not enough to hide the insulting underlying theme of the whole story: Candice is a vulnerable woman who needs to lie because she needs the security of a million zillion bucks, great expensive cars, and this nice luxurious mansion over her head. Gee, tell that to the starving kiddies in Ethiopia. Better still, tell it to me – now I have this overwhelming regret at not running away to Hollywood. Drats, I miss my mansion and my zillion dollars too.
Aside from plot contrivances to keep our heroine in the respectable zone, Candice is an irritatingly wimpy and clingy woman. She is more of a trophy wife who claims to be strong and independent, only to break down in tears because – oh the pain! – sometimes the pressures of being a rich, wealthy woman is so unbearable. Austin is there, of course, to comfort her.
And why does a book published in 2000 depicts in vitro fertilization like some sort of alien technology to be gawked at? What are we? Trapped in a time warp?
There are some humor, but not enough. Now, if Candice is the femme fatale the press depicts her, if Candice starts out with the “wrong” motivations, this story could’ve been fun. Instead, with the heroine so nice and wimpy… what a wasted opportunity.