Dafina, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-61773-564-6
Contemporary Romance, 2015
I’m not sure what happened, but Wishing Lake lacks the special something that made the previous books in the author’s Finding Home series enjoyable to read. Here, everything just feels like one long showcase of uninspired cliché after another.
The basic premise is this: Professor Peyton Harris, who is a new arrival in the town of Trinity Falls, and Darius Knight, the local journalist, are going to fall in love. While they may fall in love on their own, pretty much the entire town are working together to pair them up. While this may sound cute – although, to me, it sounds more like the creepy antics of cult – we are talking about people locking these two up in a room and such. I find myself wondering each time something this intrusive happens to Darius and Peyton: what happens if these creepy “I wanna get them all hooked up!” people are wrong and those two are wrong for one another? What happens if Peyton sues them all for harassment? Of course she won’t, but the intrusive uniform collaboration of the townspeople is something I have a hard time buying. Don’t these people have anything better to do?
Perhaps because of this overbearing machination by the townspeople, the author doesn’t do much to make the characters interesting. Peyton is a familiar heroine: one that have a hard time standing up to overbearing mothers, and there’s not much to Darius as well. They are all adequate, and when the author tones down the machinations of the townspeople late in the story, the couple have a chemistry that would have been amazing if the author had developed it better. Then again, I’m a bit perturbed by Darius’s high-handed “my way or GTFO now” manner of forcing Peyton to own up to her inability to stop running away from her problems. I understand why he does it, and I’m a bit fed up of her nonsense myself, but the way he does it is like kicking a puppy who doesn’t know better. It is an uncharacteristically aggressive approach from a guy who has been more… sedate all this while. Perhaps if the author had allowed the characters to develop organically, I may appreciate that moment better, I don’t know.
It is also disappointing to see yet again another black romance story where the villains are females – bitch hag mothers and crazy hos, the usual. In this story, the crazy ho doesn’t add any value to the story, as she just shows up suddenly for no reason other than to act up, so I can only wonder why the need to force her into the story. I am not one of those folks who believe that women can’t be portrayed even a little negatively, I am just bored of all these lazy female villains that all act and sound the same after a while. If we’re to have a crazy ho, why not one that carves puppies up or something, instead of just another lazy stereotype of the jealous ex-girlfriend?
At any rate, Wishing Lake starts off with a contrived premise, and then adds in predictable and familiar tropes and characters when what it really needs is some breathing space for the hero and the heroine to behave more like real people and to fall in love like most normal people would. There is a by-the-numbers feel to the whole proceeding that is most disappointing to encounter.