by JM Jeffries, paranormal (2000)
ImaJinn, $8.50, ISBN 1-893896-06-4
Authors Miriam Pace and Jacqueline Hamilton, writing as JM Jeffries, have a great idea. Cupid and his mom Venus are ordered to match an unlikely couple in Cupid: The Amorous Arrow as a punishment for bungling up their jobs once too often (well, Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, and Liz Taylor and her many ex-hubbies can now stop blaming themselves, and let's not start with the Samson and Delilah fiasco). They succeed and like it so much that they perform the matchmaking thing again, this time against Jupiter's orders, in Cupid: The Bewildering Bequest.
Unfortunately, something has gone wrong somewhere, and the these books end up something there's not quite Farrelly Brothers farce or Albert Brooks sharp witty funny. They are more of the dumbed down Adam Sandler, Chris Farley or Norm McDonald type of humor. Two ways awkward, some ways funny, but all in all, just awkward.
Cupid: The Amorous Arrow has our intrepid bungler duo trying to match Amberlin O'Rourke, plumber, with Jeremy Barrett, old money whiz kid. Amberlin's aunt is carrying out a decades-old vendetta against the Barrett in her one-woman attempt to steal from the Barrett department store into bankruptcy. Jeremy catches Auntie Cecilia in action one day, but is bewildered when his grandfather only chuckles indulgently at Cecilia's antics.
What is going on?
Whatever it is, that old lady has to be stopped. Solution? Operation Match Aunt Cecilia with Grandpa Frederick. Amberlin's a somewhat reluctant conspirator, but have no fear. There's our dear Cupidano and Venusia (guess who, darlings) to make sure everyone's married by hook or by crook to their Mr and Miss Right by the end of the story.
Problem is, the authors seem not to know what to do with the potentially wonderful characters they have at their hands. Cupid and Venus are relegated into comic relief, while the four main characters have little personality whatsoever. Jeremy's a one-note Mr Perfect, Amberlin's Ms Insecure from page one to end, and the two old coots are extra comic relief materials.
I won't have any problems with that if the humor is well-done, of course. But the first half of the book just feels forced, exacerbated by the stilted writing that seems determined to wring every drop of potential laughter from me in every scene. Toilet bowls just don't get plugged up, they overflow and cause a flood.
The humor and style flows better in the later half - perhaps the authors are getting into the spirit of their story - but it's a bit too late to redeem the story from its awkward first half. And Amberlin is pretty irritating - what's all this insecurity, girl? You're a plumber, so what? It's not something to be ashamed of! There's little credible motivation as to why Amberlin would think Jeremy won't find her worthy of any affectionate hugsi, hence dragging their whole relationship into a What is this?!! affair.
The follow-up effort Cupid :The Bewildering Bequest is a much better effort. This time around, interior decorators/limo drivers Cupidano and Vena are out to pair Merrill Prescott, prissy prim lawyer from uptown, with Jason Stavros, cheerful construction dude from downtown. Trouble is, the goddess Fortuna, Venus' rival, wants Amberlin to end up with her favorite (she wants to prove to Jupiter that she can be a great Goddess of Love too). Jupiter wants Merrill to be his newest plaything.
Adding to the headache is Merill being forced to live with Jason in a posh fabulous mansion to be caretakers of a cat that is worth $75,000,000. There are cat-napping relatives afoot waiting to get their grubby hands on Rich Kittie (oh stand in line!). Can Merrill and Jason find time to make lovely, beautiful babies?
Well, unlike the first book, I want to know too. Jason and his ever-wonderful too-tight briefs are great fun. Sexy, charming, if tad too perfect, he can keep me reading anytime. Merrill isn't too bad too. Some extra depths in their characters won't hurt, but they're okay.
But the plot! The one-dimensional villains that would make even Wild E Coyote on his bad day cringe! It is bad enough the authors resort to some silly coincidences, but some of the things the bad guys do in Cupid: The Bewildering Bequest seems right out of Home Alone or Beethoven. Loud, silly, and juvenile. Add in some definitely adult love scenes and it's like The Bugs Bunny Show with sex. The whole effect is disconcerting.
Judging from Cupid: The Bewildering Bequest compared to Cupid: The Amorous Arrow, the authors are definitely improving. But they need to get the characterization and plots right first. Some more thought out character development as well as tighter plots would be nice. And when it comes to slapstick humor, it's better to go There's Something About Mary than Home Alone.
Cupid: The Amorous Arrow rates a 52 and Cupid: The Bewildering Bequest gets a 64.
Cupid: The Amorous Arrow at Amazon.com
Cupid: The Amorous Arrow at Amazon UK
Cupid: The Bewildering Bequest at Amazon.com
Cupid: The Bewildering Bequest at Amazon UK
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