Wedding Bell Blues
by Robyn Amos, contemporary (2004)
Harper, $6.99, ISBN 0-380-81543-5


A fun, vivacious heroine can't make up for the very stereotypical and dull hero, predictable and uninspired conflicts, and a story that has too much wacky antics for its own good in Robyn Amos' second contemporary romance for Harper.

Moni Lawrence will tell you that she suffers from DDS - Damsel in Distress Syndrome - because people always assume that she is weak and helpless because of her small size. In fact, she's a pretty outgoing lady who has come a long way from Dunkin, Virginia to San Diego, California to start a new life. But somehow she can't locate her new house and she is driving around, increasingly frustrated, when she sees a naked man on a lawn and crashes her car right through his fence into the lawn. Oops.

Grant Forrest is ready to enjoy a nice long soak in his bath tub when he decides to go outside and collect the newspaper from the doorstep that morning. He has a towel around his waist to protect his modesty, but his naughty cat distracts him while he's outside and the towel slips off him. That's when Moni sees him and smashes her car into his fence right into the swimming pool. Oops.

He decides to sue her for damages and Moni, always a frugal person, decides that she can fix that fence herself instead of paying for someone to fix it. The judge agrees to let her do it, provided that she completes the task within thirty days. As Moni begins to literally mend fences with Grant, the DDS syndrome sets in and his neighbors start pestering him for making such a wee helpless young lady do all the work. Poor Grant.

Moni is a fun heroine with a healthy sense of independence but Ms Amos doesn't seem to know what to do with Moni. Moni meets some colorful characters such as a topless dancer and she gets involved in the lives of the people of Paloma del Rio, but these incidents never actually bring out the best from Moni. It doesn't help that Moni is paired with a very stereotypical hero. The twice-divorced Grant doesn't want marriage, thinks that all women are grubby nasty sorts, yadda yadda yadda. I've heard that broken record too many times before and Grant doesn't perform an interesting variation of that song. Besides, call me cynical but I can't help thinking that the problem with Grant's failed relationships probably lies with him. One divorce, okay, but two divorces? It can't all be the women's fault. They are probably tired of being married to a boring stereotype.

The relationship is already predictable and unexciting enough as it is another "Good woman proves herself worthy of the hero" yarn, but the episodic external conflicts doesn't help matters at all. Uninspired plot twists like Moni's old boyfriend making a reappearance not only fail to add anything interesting to the story, these conflicts only make the story come off as even less focused. Instead of actually addressing some pertinent issues in the relationship between Moni and Grant, Ms Amos introduces trite and overused "ex"-ternal conflicts to keep the story going.

At the end of the day, Wedding Bell Blues is just another so-so story that fails to add anything new or fresh to an overdone premise.

Rating: 65


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