Harlequin Signature Select, $5.99, ISBN 0-373-83649-X
Contemporary Romance, 2005
The common trend of That’s Amore! is our couple facing conflicts while they are at the brink of the happily-ever-after, the wedding preparations. One or both main characters are not of the usual WASP variety. Unfortunately, more often than not, the main characters’ race or culture defines their entire characterization and the authors rarely develop the conflicts that arise beyond the superficial.
Janelle Denison’s Meet the Parents has Jason Crofton and Hawaiian heroine Leila Malekala trying to get to the altar despite her parents’ objection. This story is frankly repulsive because Leila’s parents come off as hardcore racist pigs with their insistence on Leila marrying a local guy and having kiddies untainted by mainland white genes. Jason has no personality apart from his willingness to embrace Leila’s customs and make her happy while Leila is just a sweet Hawaiian gal who has not much else in the personality department. The parents have the most character, in the unfortunate sense that their xenophobia makes this story a painful read. This is one case where throwing the old coots onto a leaking ship destined for Antarctica would have helped matters tremendously.
Toni Carrington’s I Do, Don’t I? has two Greek-Americans, Efi Panayotopoulou and Nick Constantinos, about to tie the knot but the wedding plans are complicated by problems one after another. Difficult parents, unreasonable relatives, confusion in the gifts and what-nots, they’re all here. This story is a chaotic cacophony at times, but that’s reasonable given that it’s set during preparations for an upcoming wedding. What I really like about this story is how the main characters discover that they have never really planned for their lives after the honeymoon, and realizing this and acting on it only strengthen their relationship.
Leslie Kelly’s There Goes the Groom has Luke Santori, defined entirely as “Italian”, “handsome”, and, er, “Italian”, falling for the dressmaker Rachel Grant while he’s getting ready to married the woman that he eventually reasons to be wrong for her. This one has sex and comedy and Luke, to Ms Kelly’s credit, doesn’t come off like an SOB. But I still can’t shake off this feeling that Rachel has keep a close eye on Luke in the future because there is still a “rebound” vibe to this story.
That’s Amore! offers short and easily digested stories. Apart from the first offering by Janelle Denison, the other two short stories are pleasant reads. This anthology isn’t a “you have to buy now or die” thingie, but it probably won’t inspire “you have bought it so now you want to die” feelings either.