And Then Came You
by Maureen Child, contemporary (2004)
St Martin's Press, $6.99, ISBN 0-312-99752-3
This book comes with a mini-title, Sam's Story. So I guess this book should officially be called And Then Came You: Sam's Story, never a more pretentious title if I may say so. Who is this Sam anyway?
Sam is actually Samantha Marconi. At eighteen, she married Jeff Hendricks, a rich kid. I'm sure readers can guess where this story is heading. He left, never calling or writing or responding to her calls and letters, and pregnant, she eventually gave up their daughter. Cut to nine years later, when Jeff finally approaches Sam for a divorce so that he can remarry his Miss Wrong. Sam learns that Jeff has been raising Emma, their daughter, all along. Emma the horrible matchmaking too-sage, too-precious monster, along with the Marconi Family and Sequel Baits Incorporated conglomerate, will force those two back together come what may.
I have lost count of how many times I've rolled my eyes at this story. Everything wrong about the initial split between Sam and Jeff is the fault of Jeff's late mother, naturally. I mean, have mothers ever been nice people in lousy, cliché-padded books like And Then Came You? But at the same time, Jeff never rises above being a spineless Momma's Boy. Sam is a cliché that rarely makes sense: she's living with a family who is more than willing to meddle in her life, but she must give her daughter up for adoption (a decision the reader can be assured that Sam dramatically regrets) instead of raising her with the help of her family. Oops, it looks like Ms Child is too focused on creating outlandish soap-opera plot developments in her story that she forgets to see whether her story is making sense or not.
The characters don't behave like rational people, they behave according to the author's need to create a conflict. Fine, so Jeff and Sam were idiots once upon a time. I'm sure everyone was an idiot once upon a time. But their subsequent actions in the story are no better. Filled with stock clichéd characters that emote like mechanical toys programmed to emulate Harlequin American characters as best as they could in a plot that is calculated to incorporate every overused plot device in existence without any concern on whether these plot devices would logically even go together in the same context, And Then Came You, with or without pretentious vestigial subtitles, is just a story that knows its Clichés 101 by heart but is completely hopeless at actually using these clichés well.
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