Table For Two
by Dara Girard, contemporary (2003)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-452-8


Cassandra Graham is at the surface a polished and charismatic self-help guru who helps fellow big-sized women and other "socially challenged" people, as long as they pay her money for books, tapes, and seminars of course. Unfortunately, her guru empire is at the verge of collapse thanks to a failed marriage and dropping sales numbers. Maybe she should have taken a leaf from Martha Stewart and start playing with shares.

Drake Hanson is a self-made man who went from nothing to top chef thanks to hard work and brains. (The fact that he's hot and so pretty probably helps a lot along the way.) Still, he has some rough edges in his social graces and he decides to attend Cassie's workshop to get ready for his ten-year high school reunion. Yes, he wants to score with that woman that he didn't dare approach back in those days. Drake should have just paid me the money for my advice: his Miss Thang won't think twice if he just whips out that credit card and asks her whether she wants to name their firstborn Prada or Gucci.

This is a story of two people with issues. Many, many issues. And their story goes something like this:

He think she's hot.

She thinks he's hot.

She thinks she's a big, fat woman that no man will ever love. She will not believe him! She will misunderstand everything he says!

He think she's hot.

She thinks he's hot.

She thinks she's a big, fat woman that no man will ever love. She will not believe him! She will misunderstand everything he says!

He think she's hot.

She thinks he's hot.

She thinks she's a big, fat woman that no man will ever love. She will not believe him! She will misunderstand everything he says!

He think she's hot.

She thinks he's hot.

She thinks she's a big, fat woman that no man will ever love. She will not believe him! She will misunderstand everything he says!

Gee, I think there's a pattern forming in this story.

These people make love and break up with clockwork regularity, with the reason for their nonsense too often being Cassie's "I'm a big fat loser so no man will ever love me!" attitude. She is still whining and wailing the same old boring broken record late in the story that it is a wonder that Drake doesn't just drop this pathetic, whiny lard bag loser and hit on someone else instead. Drake has issues, but at least he takes steps to overcome these issues. Good for him! But Cassie never takes one step forward without taking ten steps back and she is horrid enough to weep and mope while she's at it.

Adding insult to the injury is the fact that there are several men other than Drake in this story that are interested in Cassie but she is just too self-absorbed to stop thinking that nobody loves her because she was once fat. No, Cassie, we hate you because you are too irritating for words, not because you are fat, but you are making it very easy for us to hate fat people too, especially fat people like you. Shut up already!

It gets to a point where I'm more relieved than anything to reach the last page of the story. I can only hope that Drake will use some of his money to forcefully check Cassie into a rival's workshop on overcoming self-esteem issues. Cassie has enough self-pity to fill an entire ballroom, not just a table for two, only this ballroom will be on a sinking ship that will go down faster than one can say "Titanic".

Rating: 46


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