Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-449-00518-6
Historical Romance, 2001
Maggie Osborne never lets her characters find love easy, and I respect that. The Bride of Willow Creek, however, drives me crazy. It has a beautiful, potentially dramatic set up that could have led to so many beautiful, poignant scenes. But what instead do I get? An unusual conflict that relies too much on clichés to bring about a resolution.
Due to some evil father complications, Angelina Bartoli and Sam Holland went their separate ways after their elopement. Now, ten years later, Angie is back in Sam’s life. She seeks him out in Willow’s Creek for a divorce, and finds herself playing nanny to his two daughters and keeping house instead. She will not wash his underwear. Sam doesn’t have the means to give her a divorce, and with nowhere else to go, Angie has to settle for the role of reluctant housewife to two girls who conspire to make her life hell.
Sam loves the mother of those girls, Laura, and oh, how he rubs that into Angie’s face.
Isn’t this wonderful? So much potential dramatics, so much conflict. Instead, what do I get? Angie screaming at Sam every other page (abuse of exclamation marks alert) and Sam gets all manly and hot and kisses her to shut her up. Really, I don’t know any man who gets hot and kisses the woman in the midst of an argument, especially not when they are going at it at full capacity of their voice boxes. Let me put on my best British queen impression and say “It truly vexes me” when an author uses this stupid kiss-shut-up-argument-postponed-another-day device to carry the story. If Ms Osborne wants to use clichéd plot devices, she should have written a clichéd set-up to begin with. That way, I wouldn’t feel cheated.
Thanks to the non-communication and overuse of forceful kisses as plot devices, Sam really starts to make me mad. He keeps comparing Angie to Laura and finding fault in everything Angie does. “Yeah,” I actually screamed at the book, “that Laura is not the one managing your finances, keeping the books, feeding you, tolerating your spoiled, neglected daughter, and giving you nightly pokies, you son of a bitch. Go become a necrophile and dig up Laura’s body to play house if you love that silent, obedient, undemanding, brainless hussy so much. Just how did Laura tolerate you for so long is beyond me.”
Just then hubby merrily saunters in from his soccer game with his friends, trudging mud all over the floor and asking me, “Dinner’s ready, honey?”
I’m sorry to say I sort of lost it then and snap at him for being such a useless, troublesome male nuisance who’d probably die if he takes a peek into the kitchen to see if there’s food on the table. Not exactly my finest moment, and I blame it all on Sam Holland. I hope he gets lifelong diarrhea, that bastard.
Angie is almost a great heroine: oh, how she tries to make Sam see he is being an unreasonable jerk, but see, when he kisses her, ooh. When she finally decides to stay because, well, lil’ Daisy needs an operation and Sam is a good father and… and… I start to cast the evil eye on my unsuspecting hubby who is watching TV instead of helping with the dishes. I have to walk into the kitchen and down a glass of whiskey before I can resume reading the story – and keep myself from biting hubby’s head off his shoulders.
As the story progresses, the author starts doing spin controls worthy of a government spokesperson. Clichés fall fast and loose, including the two daughters’ actual paternity and Laura’s miserable past and other unnecessary plot twists that only make The Bride of Willow Creek more and more a parody of what it started out to be. Finally, put in a “she loves him but he thinks she’s leaving” final conflict and I’ve had it.