Onyx, $6.99, ISBN 0-451-41034-3
Contemporary Romance, 2002
Therapy: a rare occurrence in romance novels, as most authors prefer to delude themselves and their readers that love is the panacea for everything from trauma to outright brain damage. But in The Edge of Heaven, heroine Emma McRae could sure use – let’s see – a self-esteem seminar, a recovery group or two, a course on controlling one’s tears, and a workshop on overcoming gullibility. Yes, yes, love conquers everything, but watch out for that bus, Emma.
Rye – just Rye for now, because his identity is part and parcel of his Big Secret – knocks on Emma McRae’s door one day and to her, it’s la-di-da time. With more neuroses than Maura Tierney’s Nurse Abby on ER, she nonetheless forgets that a woman with fragile mental health like herself shouldn’t be talking to strangers, even if said stranger is the most handsome hunk she has ever seen. I’m glad Emma gets to be in a romance novel. She’ll die in any other genre.
Rye has a score to settle with the family that adopted Emma, specifically with Sam McRae, so he decides to hang around. And Emma couldn’t be happier, even if she keeps vacillating between happy iggles, waterspout action, and annoying self-doubts. Prozac has a poster girl in Emma, who can be completely unhinged at times. She is barely functioning at the early parts of the story, babbling to handsome strangers about her personal stuff notwithstanding, and in the end, she’s stuffed with confidence by infusion. No, not confidence – barely twenty pages before the last, Emma is still plagued with insecurity issues.
Same with Rye. His past isn’t pretty and rosy, and that is an excuse for his own insecurity issues. He too is whining barely twenty pages before the last.
While I’m glad that the author doesn’t give me the finger by showing a complete (and unconvincing) recovery of both characters, I am also bothered by the lack of recovery. Seriously, Emma and Rye can really use a visit to the shrink. They are too damaged. And damaged in not a really good way, actually, because The Edge of Heaven is all about familiar overdone pop psychology overcoming trite and superficially covered emotional issues.