Touch Of Fate
by AC Arthur, contemporary (2011)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86217-7


How many chances should an asshole get when it comes to getting it right with a woman? One? Twenty? Your answer will determine how much you will enjoy AC Arthur's Touch Of Fate because it's an asshole in love story. Romance author Deena Lakefield and millionaire tycoon Maxwell Donovan meet and fall in love, but because Maxwell believes himself unable to have children, he immediately flees the scene after sleeping with her. Deena writes, calls, and texts him, but he refuses to respond. And finally, six months later, he magnanimously decides for the two of them that there is "no reason why" they can't be friends - no, he's not joking - so he decides to pay her visit when he's around her area. He ends up acting like a jealous fool when he realizes that she's tried to move on, reels her back in again, and then breaks up with her... via email. And on and on he goes, as if this story is a game involving a revolving door. Deena ends up being the one to try to convince them that they have a future together, because Max behaves like a gigantic crybaby asshole just because he believes that he can't have kids. Throughout the whole thing, Deena remains pathetically in love with him.

So, really, the key to enjoying this story is having a high threshold for an asshole hero. Oh, and a high threshold for tired clichés is also necessary, since the author, instead of redeeming Max, opts to have every other guy in poor Deena's life turning out to be cartoon sexual predators and villains just to make Max look good in comparison. Oh, and redemption isn't necessary, because the guy has a sad issue revolving around his dysfunctional sexual bits so really, that should justify him being a lousy boyfriend who treats a woman like crap.

Frankly, I think this relationship is doomed if Deena has to nearly die just to get that man to come to his senses. Max is simply not worth waiting for. In a way, the author is aware of this, as Max at one point in the story calls himself a coward. But she keeps having Max behave the way he does for so long, poor Deena ends up coming off like one of those really pathetic women who keep enabling the behavior of their lousy boyfriends. This story would probably be more enjoyable if the author had shown me in some way that Max is worth pining after, but the characters are as shallow as puddles here.

The shallow characterization is caused mainly by the author telling me instead of showing me all the time. It doesn't help that the "love at first sight" thing between the doormat and the crybaby asshole is depicted in such a... banal way. Max keeps saying that Deena is like no woman he's ever met, apparently because the women he met in the past were either gold-diggers or sheltered innocents. Huh? Deena keeps saying that Max is special from pretty much the moment they meet. Why? I don't know - it's something about his "aura" of "confidence", "power", and "strength". Confidence and strength... in a man who keeps treating women like dirt because he's worried that his baby batter isn't working? Their "courtship" is full of contrived scenarios, such as when Deena sees some birds flying around and starts yammering about how she envies the "freedom" of those birds. She's a trust fund baby who can afford to write romance novels full time, who takes off to a fabulous vacation at the drop of a hat because her schedule is so flexible like that and she never has to worry about money - what is she babbling about, wanting more freedom? It's so bizarre - and ridiculous - how the author has her characters behave like people who are so tormented by their poor miserable lives. All that money and beauty - everything is a trap, sob. Let the doves fly, because we need more freedom in our lives!

Because their romance is built on a foundation of airy-fairy nonsense and superficial lust passed off as metaphysical bull dung, I have little patience for Max's one-man crybaby party or Deena's pathetic efforts at imitating a doormat. Yes, so they have a happy ending, how wonderful, but I'm going to have to increase my drug prescription if I want to believe that these two will have a healthy relationship down the road.

Rating: 48


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