Indireads, $2.25, ISBN 978-1-927826-12-6
Contemporary Romance, 2013
Seoul-Mates naturally is set in a certain city in South Korea, and I’m sure you can guess which one. In this one, we have Katia Rosario, an American-born Indian who feels that she can never fit in among the folks in that country. She follows her Korean boyfriend, the appropriately named Junki, to Seoul, only to be dumped by him shortly after he reveals himself to be a cackling villain who loudly declares that being with her will not yield him any benefits. The day he dumped her will always be the worst day of her life, but for him, it was Tuesday.
Katia goes eeeeee and oooooo until she meets Kwan Jihan, a very wealthy and very handsome Korean who’d like a peek inside her virtuous underwear, but she is like, no, all Korean men are turds unworthy of even the cheapest toilet paper, but before I know it, these two are in some kind of marriage of convenience that only exists in Harlequin Presents and Asian soap operas. He is all sweet and romantic, in a bumbling cardboard cutout way, but Katia can’t just go, okay, she’s caught her a big one and it’s time for a happy ending or else there will be no story. So she’s all eeeee and oooo again about feeling all guilt-ridden over deceiving Jihan’s old folks or how she surely can’t love again, eeeeeeeee. EEEEEEEEE. And then, Jihan’s cartoon evil aunt shows up to cause problems, making Katia go even more EEEEEEEEE.
Much about Seoul-Mates is comparable to those fake marriage stories fueled mostly by the heroine stupidly insisting on how she must obey the word of the contract and leave the hero even if he’s the catch of the century because EEEEEEEE. Does this mean that romance heroine stupidity is universal and knows no geographical boundaries? That’s a disturbing notion indeed. The author takes all the tropes associated with this kind of heroine-gone-dumb-dumb premise and raises up the dumb dumb factor by at least thrice, by turning all the characters here into cardboard-thin stereotypes. Indeed, these characters, especially the female ones, are too prone to be overly emotional and impulsive that it’s hard not to cringe at their constant histrionic theatrics.
People behaving stupidly in an out of character manner is the author’s favorite way of introducing conflict, and the end result is a parade of messy behavior especially from Katia. Jihan is often stuck playing the thankless sole sane guy role here, if I can overlook his reasons for wanting to marry Katia in the first place. Everyone else is a stereotype such as the shrieking mess of a female, some failed attempts at playing comic relief, unnaturally sage plot devices inserted solely to lecture our main characters to fall in love or this story will never end, and of course the evil witch of a family member to drive stupid people into behaving even more stupidly.
Even worse, the author can’t seem to focus on a single character’s point of view for longer than a single sentence, two sentences at most. Hence, point of view switches occur at a dizzying frequency, often within a single paragraph. Combine this with the almost surreal parade of dumb-dumbs, and I eventually feel like somehow overdosing on acid without having enjoyed the fun high first.