Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-607-8
Historical Romance, 2007
Perfecting Amanda is not a ménage à trois historical romance, let me make this clear in case you get the impression from the blurb that it is. It’s more of a… complicated love triangle, let’s just say, without the usual boy-shags-boy, boys-shag-girl formula.
Our heroine is Amanda McCormick who left Michigan in 1893 to meet the man she is supposed to marry in Kansas City. She has never seen her fiancé Travis Baxter before since their relationship prior to this was strictly conducted via letters. This gives smooth-talking gambler Spencer Teague the perfect opportunity to pretend to be Travis in order to beat Travis to the honeymoon, if you know what I mean. Of course you do. Amanda could have moved on with her new life with Travis except for one sticky situation: she is carrying Spencer’s child. Also, Amanda believes that she could have very well fallen for Spencer when he plies on the charm and seduction to get her in his bed.
For Spencer, Amanda is just a game. He abandons her the morning after to face the repercussions with her real fiancé, so you can surely tell that this man is such a prize that ranks down there with herpes as a woman’s dream come true. As for the real Travis, he turns out to be this rugged good-looking farmer who missed picking Amanda up because a cow on his farm went into labor. Amanda tries very hard to move on and start a new life with Travis, since no one else knows of her indiscretion with Spencer. However, Spencer walks back into Amanda’s life later on, which leads to some complications in the poor dear’s life.
Perfecting Amanda is too short for its own good. Okay, most of Bonnie Dee’s stories in the past could have been so much better if they are longer but here the problem is quite significant because Spencer is such a pathetic little twit that the hasty attempts to redeem him by having him see visions or something make him come off like a mentally unstable pathetic little twit. When he could have been groveling in remorse, he’s instead throwing a pity party for one. You may have heard of his greatest hits before. He’s “erratic like a swallow”, he’s not for relationships, yadda yadda yadda. This will be fine, of course, if he isn’t such a pathetic little twit that he keeps sniffing around the heroine while moaning that he’s not good for her. I like Travis, who really gets the short stick where his relationship with Amanda is concerned, so this is one story that needs to go some extra mile to make Spencer the guy who is worth it.
And because the story is of the length that it is, there isn’t much room for character development to make Spencer worth even half of “it”. His relationship with Amanda is not believable because it is rushed. The only way this story could have been better is if some of those love scenes are removed for scenes that explore the characters a little bit more, but I suppose those sex scenes have to stay for reasons related to the economy of electronic book publishing. Ergo, this story needs to be longer. The storyline is too complicated to work fully in its current length.
Oh, and someone really should be more careful with the editing. There is actually one moment in this story when Spencer morphs into Travis in the same scene on the same page.