St Martin’s Press, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-312-94098-0
Fantasy Romance, 2007
The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes isn’t an anthology as much as it is a story written by three authors. The reader is never told which author dealt with which part of the book – although if you go by the Amazon reviews, the Jennifer Crusie fans there will insist that everything good is written by Jennifer Crusie while everything terrible is of course written by the other two authors – so I suppose the three authors would rather share the blame when things go wrong. The story indeed feels like a book written by several authors – the parts of the story at the beginning and the later parts of story are very different, for example, as the early parts attempt to be cute and precious while the later parts are more serious in nature by comparison.
We have three sisters with supernatural powers. The eldest sister, Deirdre Dolores Fortune or Dee, cannot control her shapeshifting abilities, thus turning in a boyfriend’s mother just before they do the deed, for example, and therefore damning her to be a virgin. The middle sister is Elizabeth Alicia or Lizzie and she has a tendency to turn things into… other things like shoes and bunnies when she’s agitated. She can’t keep a job and stays at home while dabbling with alchemical experiments like an addled version of Rumpelstiltskin. Without much success, of course. The youngest sister, Moira Mariposa or Mare, works at Value Video!!, the only place where she actually is useful for once. She has telekinetic powers that she can’t really use well.
So there you go, three sisters who are inept in the name of comedy. Dee apparently took her two sisters a while back and ran after she caught their wicked aunt Xantippe killing their parents and today the three sisters are living in Salem’s Fork. Xan has a plan to steal all three women’s powers for herself – the three birdbrained women can apparently hold Great Powers despite their lamentable ability at being halfway decent witches – and this involves matching the sisters with their destined true loves so that the sisters would fall in love and get Aunt Xan to relieve them of their powers. For Dee, her true love is a writer Danny James who is snooping around and trying to discover the skeletons in the closets of Dee’s late parents. For Lizzie, a wizard named Elric will show up and boss her around. For Mare, dear Aunt Xan believes that the suave Jude Green will be the one but Mare’s old boyfriend Crash Duncan shows up to spoil everything.
Dee is the only halfway sensible creature among the Fortune sisters, I’m afraid. The other two sisters are classic scatterbrains who don’t even like Dee for forcing them to go into hiding. Lizzie is an utter moron as she never even thinks of suspecting Elric of anything until the writing is on the wall. I’d think that when he tells her that he has the ability to change people’s perspective of him and that he’s much older than he looks, she’d at least consider how he is just using his powers to look like a hot guy and he’s actually a moldy old creature that looks like the Cryptkeeper. But no, Lizzie is just a clueless dingbat led by her heated ovaries until it’s way too late, and even then she’d still rather protect her boyfriend than to tell her sisters of the things she has learned about Elric. Mare disappoints me because she doesn’t even make that until-now MIA boyfriend stew a little for running off like that. Instead, she quickly goes into “Oh, will he love me still? He’s so hot! I can’t wait to have sex with him!” mode when I’d think a smart woman will at least take the weekend off to Italy to check and see whether he’s really a successful businessman there like he claims. A girl can’t be too careful, after all, especially when it comes to a deadbeat boyfriend. But no, Mare never thinks to even suspect Crash of anything until it’s too late. She’s too busy in heat over him, after all.
The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes is a very disappointing read because it is a study of how stupid romance heroines are encouraged to be. I tell you, if the Fortune sisters are men, there will be more than a few readers screaming that the heroes are disgusting unmanly creatures. Does this mean that stupidity is an acceptable “feminine” trait in romance heroines? If it is, I wonder how we end up with such a sad state in the genre.