Zebra, $6.50, ISBN 0-8217-6774-7
Contemporary Romance, 2001
Reading Too Good to be True is like watching a first time stand-up comedian trying his most earnest to milk a laugh – any laugh – from his audience. There seems to be every conceivable joke in this story. In fact, sometimes the whole story seems to be conceived just to milk out as many one-liners out of it as possible.
I could barely finish chapters one and two, which see an old secondary character and his butler are compared to Scrooge, dried up chickens, dead bodies, and everything else wrinkled and ugly. The house decor is at different times a tacky bordello, an interior decorator’s cataract, and at one point, probably the setting for that puppet ghoul’s yammering in Tales from The Crypt. The heroine Annie Kendall is one of those maddeningly chirpy dolls that toss irritatingly cute and perky one-liners at the drop of the hat, and the butler Dickens (hahaha – snort) will respond in monotonous droll.
No wonder the hero Grady Sullivan seems befuddled most of the time.
The plot? Annie is hired by old geezer Archie Peevers to play his illegitimate granddaughter just to throw off the man’s heirs (one of them is trying to kill him, he thinks). Wait, can Annie be really his illegitimate granddaughter? Then Archie also hires easy-going Grady as his bodyguard. Grady and Annie are antagonists at the get go – can we say lurrrrve?
I’m sure there’s a decent plot in here. Grady is a nice smart and fun guy. But really, after a few chapters, the really thick and incessant comedy takes on a hint of desperation. It feels as if the author is firing away with her eyes blindfolded: anything and everything is tossed in to make me laugh (“Laugh, laugh, laugh DAMMIT! Heeheeheeheeheeeheeeee!”). Damn the torpedoes, laugh NOW.
Hahahaha – gasp. I’m so exhausted trying to keep up. Excuse me while I go lie down.