St Martin’s Press, $6.50, ISBN 0-312-98422-7
Contemporary Romance, 2003
Katya Morgan starts out a fun heroine. She’s rich. She’s Paris Hilton, except maybe with a little more restraint. She is spoiled, she has a string of handsome boyfriends, she knows she is gorgeous, and oh, her daddy doesn’t love her? So be it, who cares about daddy – hello sweet, sweet life! I like this heroine. I especially love how when faced with a really cruel codicil in her late father’s will, she decides to challenge that will. What happens is that her father has disinherited her. Devoid of money, she decides to be sneaky and get back at the lousy cards life dealt her.
But the author naturally never allows Katya to do that. Katya is forced to be a maid in Alex Sheridan’s hotel. And because everyone keeps judging her and because the author never lets Katya win even once, in the end Katya is a “better woman”, ie one who is just like every other idiot heroine out there.
And truly, Room Service infuriates me. Yes, Katya has had lovers, the tabloids followed and exaggerated her exploits, but what gives everyone and her mother right to condemn her for it? She had sex, so? Big deal. Give me the money and watch me buy myself a new body and make my way through the men in all two hemispheres. The worst are Alex and Katya’s stepmother Jillian, whose hypocrisy rankles the most.
Jillian, of course, tosses Katya to the streets, clears away all of Katya’s possessions so that she can’t pawn them off for cash, and asks Alex to hire Katya because it is for Katya’s own good.
Alex condemns and judges her even as he lusts after her – can we say “sanctimonious hypocrite”? All the while he wants her but says he falls for the wrong woman. Then he decides he loves her, but gets angry with her because I quote on page 280, Katya insists on fighting her late father’s will and he feels that she is throwing love away for something selfish. Love means one has to sacrifice, he says. And here I go, uh-huh, just what is he sacrificing? But hey, Alex is good for Katya, it seems, because it’s for her own good.
Katya refuses to change for her father who (a) treated her like crap when she was a kid, (b) banished her to boarding schools because he couldn’t stand having a reminder of his late wife around her, and (c) acted like a control freak when the daughter gave him the finger, and in this story, Katya is wrong to do that. Daddy’s nasty will is for her own good. Because in the end, Katya stops standing up for herself, so now she has virtue, scruples, and now she is worthy of love.
Couple the treatment of Katya with the treatment of another rich young girl in this story and I get this impression that there’s not much love in this story for womankind.
Room Service is just another sad story about bad women who have sex and confidence getting humiliated and punished for their own good. The author also preaches about how the working class with their abiding need to serve and clean is noble, while hypocritically telling me that the only way true love can work is if the man is loaded. Maybe we should all stop buying the author’s books so that she’s forced to clean and sweep like the rest of the noble working class people? The more I turn the pages, the more Room Service comes off like a badly-produced TV evangelist hour.