by Ellen Fisher, contemporary (2004)
New Concepts Publishing, $3.99, ISBN 1-58608-428-3
Okay, hands up, people, if you have heard this one before.
A very handsome guy, Kipling Stanton, is pursued by the media and crazy women after he is named as the hottest bachelor in America, so he decides to move to Swift Creek, Virginia, right next to a kiddie bookstore owner who doesn't recognize him. I don't blame her. I won't recognize any of the sleazy males from those legalized prostitution specials passed off as "romantic" reality TV shows if they walk past me, except perhaps for that hirsute ape Evan Marriott because it's hard to forget that much ugly and dumb from a man. But I digress.
This woman, Cody Lang, lives just to please Daddy, but Daddy isn't pleased until she finds a man to take care of her and uses the eggs God gives her to give him some grandkiddies for him to bully, er, love. So he decides to pretend that he's seriously ill and maybe even expire soon and poor Cody is soon scrambling around to make him happy. She invents a Prince Charming but Daddy isn't satisfied - he wants to see this man, so Cody now wants Kipling to...
Hey, why is everybody getting up? Hey, don't leave, we haven't even served refreshments yet! Where are you all going to?
Ellen Fisher tries to do the right thing. She doesn't pretend that Cody is without issues - Cody needs to find a way to stop living in her father's shadow. Kipling has some issues too - he is insecure enough to harbor doubts about his abilities and worries that people like him only for his looks. These two talk and are quite convincing as a couple in love. Maybe their TV wedding will be more credible than that of the first Bachelerotte Trista and her consolation prize Ryan. In a way, this story is more than just another "Yay, hot stud moves to hickweed town and snags the hot nitwit babe next door" rehash. Yes, it's a bit of a rehash because Cody Lang doesn't ditch town and men in general at the end to move to Nashville and perform songs about constant cravings under the cooler stage name of kd lang.
But this is also a short story, published as part of New Concepts Publishing's novella line, like a fast food outlet thingie I guess, so it is frustrating that these glimmers of depths in the characters aren't explored adequately. Isn't It Romantic? therefore is nearly a different kind of sameness, nearly a really good story, but is just not quite there yet thanks to the length constraint that fails to make the absurd premise work. Isn't that exasperating?
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