Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86371-6
Contemporary Romance, 2014
Shirley Hailstock’s Someone Like You tries very hard to make silk purses out of a sow’s ear with its fake engagement premise, but we are still talking about sow’s ears at the end of the day, and… well, I suppose we can all imagine that the sow is cute and that’s something, I guess.
Theresa Granville is a wedding consultant who knows how to make a good first impression. When the story opens, she is set up on a blind date by her mother, and oh, how she hates the concept of blind dates. She surveys the scene and hopes that Adam Sullivan is not that fat guy over there, or that short guy… oh, that guy is cute, but she’s now convinced that he must have some weird flaw to be on a blind date in the first place. Did she tell you that she hates the very concept of blind date because she hates the very idea of becoming eye candy on a man’s arm? Of course, Ms No Self-Awareness here has her own list of criteria for her dream date – taller than her, good-looking – and I don’t see her wanting a man for his brain, and yet she holds men to a standard she doesn’t even bother to follow herself.
It is hilarious, therefore, when Adam tells her outright that she’s not his type, as he prefers someone shorter and less intelligent.
Ms No Self-Awareness, who was just praying a while back that her blind date wouldn’t be shorter than she is, is horrified that he would dare pick a date based on height requirements.
And yet, he decides that he needs a fake fiancée to keep the meddling family members away. Teddy wins me over a little when she insists that such a plan only works in romance novels, but then they go ahead anyway and I sigh.
The rest of the story is the same song and dance as practically every story with a fake engagement premise. You know – oh, I love him but we have an agreement so I must break up with him as I’ve promised, he doesn’t love me, and there are still some more pages to go because this story can be considered a novel, the usual. Teddy becomes more like a human being and less like a caricature of a chick-lit heroine as the story progresses, and her relationship with Adam has some moments of warmth and good chemistry.
But it’s still an unconvincing fake engagement story at the end of the day, and the author doesn’t go all the way in injecting the self-knowing humor that could have made this story stand out from other stories with this premise. There is some self-aware humor, but not enough. So, Someone Like You ends up being something like blah – it’s kind of generic and predictable, easily forgotten once I’m done with it.