Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-380-81961-9
Contemporary Romance, 2003
Ooh, look who has ascended to lead status on Avon. It’s just too bad that the author’s writing skills seem to have taken the turn for the worse when she is selling better. There are so many repetitious ramblings and psychobabble in this story, it is as if Ms Bevarly has run out of steam and has to repeat herself to pad the pages. Also, the first few chapters are so bizarrely stupid that I almost take a meat cleaver to this book, blend it with pig’s blood, and UPS the result in a vial to Elizabeth Bevarly’s doorstep out of spite.
It is towards the second half of the book when the heroine improves tremendously in the brainpower department, the gimmicky one-liners are toned down, and the more likable cast (the hero and the secondary couple) shine that this book takes on a semblance of being decent. All in all, an uneven book that suggests maybe the author should take care of the bats in her literary belfry first before checking the ring on her heroine’s finger.
Like most of this author’s heroines, Lucy Hollander is the barely functional Daddy’s little rich girl who would no doubt die if someone left her under the sun and forgot to attach a dog tag around her neck with the label “Please return to Daddy at this address if found”. When her guy proposes to her, shoves an obscenely large rock on her finger, and then jumps off the window ledge to flee the cops, our heroine promptly escapes via the window too. Then she pauses. Where will she go? What will she do? How does she spell “Dingbat”?
Of course, I’d always suggest hocking that ring and taking the money and fleeing to Mexico for some nice fun and a little spot of agriculture business, but Lucy, being a heroine, doesn’t do that. She flees to her buddy Phoebe’s place, upon which she is promptly dispatched as the new maid to the old-money Coves household in Kentucky.
So Ms Catastrophia Duncey Moronder here is going to be the Calamity Barbie with a mobcap and maid’s apron. Awww. Are you people laughing yet? If Ms Bevarly injects me with arsenic, that will be kinder way to inflict misery on me.
Max Hogan takes care of the Coves’ cars. He sees Duncey Moronder here and kazoinks! The carburetor in his loins goes into “whirr-whirr varoomba” mode. But she can’t, neither can he, so Ms Bevarly goes into circular mode with the want-don’t-want-really-want-but-no-no-no thing.
I hate these two people. I get really annoyed with Duncey’s no-brain antics. She keeps going on and on about this “What Would Dino Do?” thing. Who the heck is Dino? Barney’s more obscene cousin? Dean Martin, you say? Why would someone care what Dean Martin does? I will respect Duncey better if she wonders “Would Dino Do Me?” – at least that is way better than a heroine focusing her decision-making rationales on old movies.
A secondary romance sees Nathaniel, the Biggest Throughbred Stud in Kentucky, betting that he will bed Rosemary, who starts out like a typically naive dingbat type, within the month. I am set to lose all sensations in my body when I first encounter this one, because I am sure it will be another “Stupidity, er, I Mean Innocence Conquers Debauchery” pro-female ignorance nonsense, but Rosemary, to my pleasant surprise, manages to rise above the typical dingbat heroine stereotype.
Also, somewhere along the middle of the story, the forced one-liners and monotonous psychobabble slowly ebb to a more tolerable level as the main characters act a little more like human beings for once. Duncey starts whipping her life into some semblance of functionality, and that’s good. Max isn’t a typical playboy, that’s nice. Nate bites the big one, while Rosemary, well, she’s sweet but she’s also okay. But the coherence and readability of the later parts are a case of almost too-late-you’re-dead. Almost, that is. It just shows that the author can do decent comedy if she isn’t trying too hard to turn her heroines into bizarre circus dogs that jump through silly hoops just to milk her audience dry of canned laughter. By trying too hard to the point that the book threatens to collapse under the strain of Ms Bevarly’s forced humor, she almost sank this book. It’s like her personal Titanic that almost goes under after knocking down three icebergs in a row. She does avoid disaster in the end, but it’s a close call nonetheless.