Berkley, $6.99, ISBN 0-425-18815-9
Contemporary Romance, 2003
Let me put it this way: if you have read any of Dee Holmes’s books or heck, watch any cheap, bad hackneyed TV movies geared towards women, there is no suspense or drama to be gained from The Boy on the Porch. The author tries to tackle the story of a woman’s coming to terms with herself and finding love a second time with a new guy, but it’s so hopelessly clichéd to the point of parody.
Annie Hunter is almost forty. She runs an interior decorating business. Her husband Richard has been dead for a year. What happens when she comes home one day to find a thirteen-year old boy claiming to be Richard’s son and asking her, “Are you my Mommy?” As she tries to piece together this puzzle, she falls for the man running the home for juvenile delinquents (where the boy Cullen comes from), Linc McCoy.
Thing is, of course Richard turns out to be scum of the universe. Of course he’s the rich, old money type complete with the Mommy from Hell and Misunderstood Daddy who is actually fond of his daughter-in-law in his own way. So why does Annie love Richard so much and all but lie down to let the in-laws practice The Ketchup Song dance on her back? There are some hints of her need for a father figure in her life, but her mother isn’t that bad a person, so what gives?
It is very hard to be sympathetic to Annie when she comes off as not only passive and unbearably push-over friendly but also like a child trapped in a woman’s body.
Linc is annoying as a character whose motivation seems to run in whatever directions the plot requires it to go to. There’s a bizarrely out-of-character fight between he and she towards the end that result in a separation. The romance, however, is so tepid that I don’t even mind that these two make up without seeming to have learned anything about communication. The whole thing screams rebound and I can’t see any happy ending in these two’s relationship anyway. No chemistry, nothing. To be blunt, I can’t be bothered to care.
There’s some attempt to address issues like self-discovery and adoption here, but Ms Holmes tackle these with heavy-handed and hackneyed overblown anvils.
Nothing surprises, not even a little, because the characters and plot twists are all recycled and overused before in so many cheap and rushed women fiction stuff in print or on the screen. The result is a flat, dull, and monotonous story. Reading The Boy on the Porch is like listening to a dull litany of clichés delivered in the speaker’s most monotonous voice. Even a little attempt at tweaking the formula would have done wonders for this lifeless tale.