Awe-Struck Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 1-928670-16-4
Contemporary Romance, 1999
The title Stroke of Luck is not a naughty pun, so stop giggling. It’s a not-too-subtle reference to the heroine who’s a stroke victim. Indeed, bonus points should be given to the author for tackling this subject. Too bad the whole book reads like a badly-written tract for Stroke Recovery Bureau.
Debbie Hunt’s interior decorating business is booming when she gets a stroke. She loses control of her facial movements and is paralyzed waist down. At 28, she is a vegetable, or so she feels. In rehab, she meets the handsome nephew of her friend and rehab-partner Molly. Jake loves Debbie and woos and dines her.
But does Debbie appreciate that? No. Debbie is so in love in self-immolation – she is useless, a burden, trash, unlovable, ugly, contemptible… you name it, she calls herself that – that she spends almost the entire book wallowing in misery. Jake is so nice and kind to her and she screams at him to stop pitying her and plying false flattery at her. When he walks off she then weeps and says, yes, she’s right – no one loves Poor Paralyzed Debbie. Boo-hoo-hoo!
It is one thing to be bitter and angry at the hand Fate dealt her, but to be so immersed in self-pity even when everyone around her loves her and supports her, that’s stupidity. I admire Jake’s fortitude and stamina in dealing with a shrieking irrational harpy like Debbie. I hope he has enough savings to invest in a psychiatrist or ten in the future.
Okay, maybe the heroine’s a dead loss, but how about the stroke victim angle? The author herself is a stroke victim who obviously has poured her heart and soul into this story, but unfortunately, good intentions do not a good book make, as more often than not, parts of the story read as if they are lifted from The Anatomy of Stroke or other medical books with little effort to integrate them into the story. When the good nurses and friends aren’t sprouting medical texts that would make a third year medical lecturer proud, they are talking in hackneyed-sounding dialog. The effect is one cringe-worthy read.
I think I’m harsh here, considering the author’s infirmary, and I will obviously get hate mail for being “unsympathetic to the handicapped”. I’m sorry, but I still think this book needs severe polishing. Lots of it.