by Brenda Jackson, contemporary (2001, 1998 reissue)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-227-4
I know many readers consider One Special Moment a classic Brenda Jackson masterpiece. Personally, I think a book titled after that "one special moment" of heroic ejaculation par excellence is already halfway to classic masterpiece-dom already. Seriously, One Special Moment is in essence a truly amazing romance. But it has the misfortune of having to rely on a ridiculous plot to bring heroine Colby Wingate and hero Sterling Hamilton together.
Colby is just a normal everyday schoolteacher who happens to have perfect looks and perfect hips. When her brother's cosmetics business needs one final boost, she decides to grasp at the impossible and ask popular actor Sterling to endorse her brother's new fragrance Awesome. (Frankly, I think that cosmetics business is tanking because of its lousy names. I mean, Awesome? What sort of name is that?) To her surprise, Sterling accepts with uncharacteristic enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, Sterling mistakes Colby for one of the hundreds of women applying to be the future mother of his baby. Sterling, a product of a broken home, doesn't believe in love and just wants a baby. So for a million bucks plus another half a million to sweeten the deal, he'll marry the woman he chooses (Colby), impregnates her in that, ah, "one special moment", and then divorces her after baby is born.
And apparently, to save bro's ass, Colby weeps and agrees. Endorsement for sperm warehousing - sign the contract, done deal.
Here, I am rolling my eyes so high up, my eyeballs are in danger of being stuck to the top of my skull. It's 1998. Hello, people. Does the word "surrogate motherhood" ring any bell? In vitro fertilization? Who needs to get married anymore to have kids? More importantly, who needs to have actual intercourse to make babies? It's 1998? How about 1958?
I spend way too long going "Huh?" and "What the..." at the story. More than half the story has passed before I settle into the groove of the story. It also seems ridiculous that Colby and her brother bank everything on Sterling endorsing a perfume named (*groan*) Awesome and not having any contingent plan B's in the wings.
But still, just when I am about to give up on this story, finally, after that one special moment of tadpole catching, Colby and Sterling get down to the good stuff. They start falling in love. It's one thing to enjoy Sterling's well-planned calculations falling apart, but even better, Colby is an intelligent heroine who doesn't take smelly stuff from her man. That one scene where she gives it good to Sterling, telling him to stop whining - he is not the most unlucky and unhappy man in this world so can he please Get Over It, thanks very much, that scene is worth a standing ovation.
It is also a pleasure to watch Sterling's confusion as he falls in love. And while he fights it, he accepts it without behaving like a jackass. He and Colby start out ultra-perfect cardboard characters of impossible beauty and all, but eventually, through their interaction and falling in love, their flaws and strengths start to show. These two become real.
The later half of One Special Moment is one for the keeper shelf. Fun, romantic, and I even shed a tear or two at some scenes. But at the same time, the entire marry-for-baby premise drives me nuts, because it's an archaic plot with little relevance to its contemporary setting. In a way, I feel quite sad for Colby and Sterling. They are great characters, they deserve a better story.
One Special Moment does have more than its share of moments. Readers who can overlook the Huh? plot will enjoy the romance better, I think. For a book named after the hero's manly testicular-explosion, it is a surprisingly wonderful romance. Nice. Could be even better with a more contemporary plot, but very nice nonetheless.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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