Married In A Rush
by Julie Cohen, contemporary (2006)
Harlequin Mills & Boon, £2.99, ISBN 0-263-84998-8


Married In A Rush features a heroine, Jo Graham, who is also a drama teacher. No big deal, right? Every other heroine in a series romance tend to conform to an acceptable "feminine" job - teachers, boutique owners, et cetera. However, Jo starts out an unrepentant hussy. She likes her men and she likes them hot and fast, changing them as often as she changes her clothes in the name of fun. She even has sex with a man she has just met, Bruno Deluca, in the store room of the National Gallery of London on the day after she has turned down a wedding proposal from a guy and caused the poor man to burst into tears.

How can I not read a story with such a heroine?

Unfortunately, I probably should have known better because this story follows how the heroine ends up becoming a typical romance heroine. After her steamy hello-there-handsome interlude with Bruno, she learns that she is pregnant. On the bright side, she quickly informs him of the unexpected development. He proposes that they marry and this is where the whole story goes completely wrong.

True to braindead romance heroine fashion, Jo immediately insists that the wedding will be in name only, et cetera, and she is never having sex with him again because that will only make her like him better. True to the tune of tired romance novel clichés, I learn that Jo engages in premarital casual sex because she's messed up in her head. After all, good moral women don't do that sex-me-up thing, it's the neurotic and insecure weirdos who take it happily from men they are attracted to. Jo's fear of commitment is so overwrought and exaggerated that I wonder whether she's better off seeing a shrink before she walks down the aisle.

Fortunately for my blood pressure, Jo isn't a complete dummy so as the story progresses, she can change for the better. Unfortunately, this comes only after I have to sit through a long and painful ordeal of having to follow Jo as she behaves like a neurotic ninny. Maybe one can blame her overwrought hysteria on her pregnancy, but because Jo is so irritating here, I'm not inclined to be so understanding.

Bruno is a much nicer character. He is a former player who has mellowed after the death of his twin brother. He moves to London to be close to his late brother's wife and infant child. No, don't worry, it's not like he's trying to woo his brother's wife or anything like that. He is hoping instead to play the loving uncle to that kid. Only, his sister-in-law sees her late husband every time she looks at Bruno and therefore the arrangement is not an entirely painless one. Bruno is the perfect gentleman here, but he has to be, given that someone has to be wise in this story and that someone sure isn't going to be that overwrought drama queen Jo.

Because Jo is smart enough to pull herself together in time for the wedding and the happy ending, this story ends on a high note. Unfortunately, it's not as enjoyable to follow Jo as she tries her best to imitate a typical dim-witted Harlequin Blaze heroine. Ultimately, I have to say that it is a disappointing experience to follow an unusual heroine like Jo being forcefully knocked up and fit into the typical series romance heroine mold.

Rating: 66


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