Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-169-3
Contemporary Romance, 2001
Maybe it is the author’s inexperience, but instead of creating a romance of equal footing between the hero and the heroine, she has created a very “understanding” romance in Once and Again. “Understanding” as in somehow, the heroine Daphne Thorne always understands when the hero Nathan Ward does things the way he does. No need to explain his sometimes irrational, unreasonable antics, no ma’am, Daphne understands. Well, I don’t.
Nathan has a son by a woman he doesn’t love. When he is jilted at the altar by this woman he doesn’t love, he is happy. If I am unkind, I’d chalk this attitude and the fact that every women seem to happily malign this Other Woman as misogyny on the author’s part. But I’m probably giving this too much thought – it’s probably just bad writing. Besides, no one blames the hero for his inability to use birth control. Definitely bad writing.
On the wedding is Daphne, Nathan’s old flame. Nathan immediately gravitates towards her, but Daphne has her own score to settle with Nathan – she is still mad that years ago, he chose going to play with his band as opening acts for some famous singer over her. But soon, all objections fly out the window when she sees Nathan’s lil’ kid. She starts to understand…
Understand my bum. When the story has the heroine actually feeling guilty for a reasonable act of saying no to the hero coming into her house after a date, this story has already conceded victory to Nathan. In fact, this story shameless panders to Nathan – Daphne becomes his spokeswoman. Everything he does, right or wrong, is explained to me by a very understanding Daphne. That’s right, she understands why Nathan has to be selfish – he isn’t being selfish really, he’s just… just… Nathan!
This is a form of too much telling, not enough showing, of course. The end result of a story where the heroine makes excuses and bends backwards to accommodate the hero is me, the reader, feeling that Daphne isn’t in love with Nathan but a perfect romanticized single father fantasy. She probably wouldn’t know the real Nathan at all.