Bantam, $5.99, ISBN 0-553-58457-X
Paranormal Romance, 2002
Some stories make destiny and fate really wonderful concepts to believe in. The Charm Stone is one of those stories where fate and destiny make a victim out of the poor heroine, bludgeoning her into falling in love with a total ass, and I feel rather depressed as a result.
Josie Griffin, one of those rare heroines in a romance novel that don’t annoy me at all, is visiting Scotland for business, but she has a more personal reason for her visit too. When she was playing with the waves (she’s a professional surfer) at home in South Carolina a while back, she found a mysterious necklace. When she wore it, a shorty gnome-like critter named Bagan appears and tells her that her fate, destiny, et cetera is in Scotland.
Indeed, in the isle of Glenmuir is the ghost of the ancestor of today’s jackasses, Connor MacNeil. For 300 years he awaits the woman who bears the charm stone, and yes, that’s the necklace thing Josie is wearing. Now it is Josie’s duty to bear him his son, and I wonder who let this eugenics-obsessed creep into the house. But destiny and fate, both of them Connor’s bitches, make Josie stay on and on in Glenmuir, making her teach dotty old people (and for once, these old people don’t make me want to “accidentally” slip my feet and send my car crashing into where they are sitting) to swim and other silly thingies.
That’s the problem with this story: I like Josie, and I even like the dotty old people here. But whenever the story focuses on Connor, my mood evaporates. He is a humorless, genealogy-obsessed control freak who sabotages Josie’s contraceptives. I’ve searched long and hard for a heroine who can actually spell “contraceptive”, and he dares try turn her into a stupid, typical romance heroine? That asshole can die!
One may argue that Connor, an 18th century Scottish asshole, is just acting true to his character. But I can then argue thus: then why oh why must someone like Josie end up with that loser? Destiny, fate? I say a big middle finger to destiny and fate, really, and let poor Josie find a nice modern guy with a sense of humor. By staying true to this misassumption that arrogant, unbending dongs are the best in romance stories, The Charm Stone sinks despite having a well-done heroine. Pssst, listen, Ms Kauffman: in a romance novel, only a portion of the hero needs to be arrogant and unbending, and that’s the gospel truth.