Prelude To A Kiss
by Bettye Griffin, contemporary (2001)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-139-1


Good grief, Prelude To A Kiss is like an MTV music video. The good thing is, everybody's having a jolly good time in this story. The bad thing is, it is late into the story when there is a semblance of a direction of where it is heading.

Then again, it's people having fun here. And that, with Ms Griffin's ridiculously cheerful wit and humor, can be irresistible.

Vivian St James and her friend Glenda are approaching their mid-thirties. Born to privileged background, these two women are in high-paying posts in Corporate America. Now all they need is a Man each, and they decide that the best way to stop the serial bad dates is to go out and meet guys.

Vivian's story is only beginning. Not only are her dates of the wrong sort (a clean freak doctor, a skinflint, and more to come), most of her dates end up needing medical care. Thankfully, there's a handsome doctor named Zachary Warner to brighten up the medical mishaps.

Hmm, shall I say more? I have described half the book already. Anyway, Zack turns out to be her landlord, and their date culminates in he breaking his leg - ouch - and Viv going all Florence Nightingale over him.

From the acknowledgments, I surmised that the author used the name of every male acquaintance in her perimeter for the Bad Dates. It's obvious she's having the time of her life with this one, and I can't help being dragged along with the fun. For a long time, the story doesn't go anywhere, just party, party, party, and more party, alternating with Viv and Glenda bitching over everything like fun bitchy (boy, I do mean bitchy!) girlfriends. Sometimes these women seem almost psychotic in their pettiness - such as Viv's treatment to a guy who stood her up - but hey, all in the name of Chick Lit wannabe-isms, I guess.

But at least Viv can have fun, and she isn't afraid to be a baggage-free, rich, and happy-go-lucky heroine, and that's a plus. No virginal oww-wee's, no sexual hang-up's, just a girl out to have fun. That's a refreshing thing to read. Alas, Viv has little else in terms of character. She does get some depths later on in the story, placating a little my irritation at such skimpy characterization.

Zack, oh, I hardly knew ye. He doesn't register until he moves in next door to Viv late in the story, but he becomes a cute, baggage-free hunk soon after. He's my very own Captain Cardboard, I tell you - he has little depth in terms of character, but he's so nice, so noble, and look ma, he really wants to save the world with his medical degree. Awww.

Yes, I do find Prelude To A Kiss too fluffy and flimsy. The romance, when the author stops the party train of her female characters and get down to the business of making Viv and Zack suck face, is however sweet and funny, albeit rushed and neurotic too, and there's something endearing about a book that is determined to have fun no matter what. That it's quite laugh-out-loud funny at just too many places is also a big boost in its favor.

What the heck, I've had fun. Who cares about character and plot - this book is so cute, fluffy, and yummy. It's like chocolates, it's probably no good in the long run, but ooh, it's too yummy yum-yum-yum for me to resist.

Rating: 78


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