Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-403-X
Contemporary Romance, 2003
If Celeste O Norfleet believes that the only way two people can fall in love is by the meddlings of a third party – which is the premise of her last few books from Arabesque – more power to her. However, I wish she will go about writing that kind of stories in a more palatable manner. The actions of Mamma Lou in this book stretch my credulity and that old woman’s actions often cross the line from being outrageous to being totally unbelievable. Factor in cookie-cutter characters with very familiar baggage and a flat and lifeless prose, and One Sure Thing isn’t anything close to being a good thing.
Louise Gates or Mamma Lou as she is “affectionately” known decides that it is her life’s vocation to see her grandson Raymond Gates married. I hope she is not hoping for a video of the wedding night. She decides that Hope Diamond, a stereotypical ER head with annoying issues of trust and love, is the perfect one for Raymond. You’d expect the self-proclaimed matchmaking expert will choose a woman with pleasant personality for her darling grandson instead of a sourpuss cliché. Then again, Raymond is just as much a cliché with his committed bachelor lifestyle.
The author proceeds to have her main characters going at each other’s throats (“sexual tension”, get it?) while Mamma Lou tries every obnoxious underhanded tactics she can think of to force these two to go at it some more. When the author fails to convince me that those two even like each other at the end of the day, this book is not working for me at all. Filled with standard misunderstanding drama, tedious emotional inertia (“I will never love again – never!”), and childish bickering in a plot strictly catalyzed by the underhanded machinations of a contrived plot device character, One Sure Thing is just noise and mayhem propped by clumsy and choppy writing.
Maybe it’s time for the author to stretch herself a little and think of a plot that requires the main characters to deal with each other in a more realistic way instead of relying on deus ex machina and matchmaker plot devices. One Sure Thing only drives home how a book that relies too much on the matchmaker can go wrong – it is not a good book at all.