by Angie Daniels, contemporary (2003)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-445-5
If you are one of the three people in the world that will admit to having watched that awful David Boreanaz "star" vehicle Valentine, you may recognize some mild similarities in the premise of Endless Enchantment. Instead of a man in Valentine, in this book it's a woman that vows vengeance on four women that bullied her in highschool. These women are the Cutie Pies, of which our heroine Charity Rose is one of them. Unfortunately, the "suspense" is pushed into the background and what's left is a bland romance between two equally bland characters.
The author immediately chickens out on this premise by making Charity the sweetest, most gentle, kindest, and most sensitive heroine ever. She is, at the same time, so ashamed of her past as a shallow and self-absorbed Cutie Pie, even if the author obviously makes it that it's the other three women that are shallow and self-absorbed. And even so, the other two women are mostly misunderstood and it's the leader that that's the Ho That Deserve Our Hatred. This Ho and Charity's ex-husband had an affair, which also causes our heroine to have a case of self-doubt regarding her (gorgeous, of course) beauty and attractiveness. Instead of creating a realistic high school bitch, Ms Daniels instead creates an ultra-bland walking subscription of self-esteem issues dressed up in a 36DD package.
Our hero Keelen Brooks is a high school ugly. Now he's a handsome hunk - a common theme in this book, where Charity attends her ten-year class reunion on a romantic cruise only to realize that all the downtrodden uglies, fatties, rebels, and losers have turned into ultra-babes and uber-hunks (without artificial and siliconal enhancements, of course). He and Charity hit it off. When they are not making love, they are acting rather inconsistently: Keelen, for example, often pans Charity for her high school behavior even as he will, within the next few pages, go on to say that he is unable to love another woman because Charity has affected him too badly since his kiddie school days. Which is which? And when I consider how the author doesn't even try to portray Charity as a bitch in any way, I wonder where all this "bad, shallow Charity" thing comes from. And more importantly, which high school cool girls can even stand being in this dull cow Lana Lang wannabe's company for more than two seconds?
Oh, and some annoying conflict comes from each of them childishly suspecting the other of skanking it up with the Ho or her ex-husband. The suspense, all but forgotten in the middle of the childish runarounds our main characters give each other, reemerges in the last few chapters to be summarily dispatched with in an inept and laughable manner.
Because the author refuses to even make the heroine bad in any way, the whole premise that the heroine is a shallow creature in school that has made enemies really does not make sense at all. So basically Charity spends the whole book apologizing and whining over nothing. Unless I share the author's exaggerated view of what bad behavior consists of, which I don't, I end up wondering just what the heck this story is supposed to be about. Factor in the hero's inconsistent attraction to the heroine and a truly wretched attempt at romantic suspense and I get a book that doesn't really go anywhere.
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