Cherry On Top
by Kathleen Long, contemporary (2005)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7849-8
Cherry On Top demonstrates that you can give a few million dollars to a romance heroine but she will still find a way to become the most miserable hag in the world. It is a good thing that Cherry Harte is fictitious or, as Elmer Fudd would say, it is hunting season as I go get my gun.
Cherry, our heroine, is left standing at the altar when she also learns that she has hit the mother of all jackpots at the lottery. With her millions, she takes off to Mystic Beach, Florida... when she spends all her time joylessly trying to impress the society ladies there in an attempt to find "respectability". Hello? Who cares about respect when you're rolling in dollar bills, right? Like Wyclef Jean would say in that song, some live for the bill, some kill for the bill, but our dumb twit whines even with the bills. As she spends the rest of the story acting as if her self-respect is going for bargain bin rates while dramatically playing the dumb martyr as she tries to clean up her useless father's mess, I feel this urge to go Wu-Tang Clan all over her bony dumb ass.
The hero Luke Chance is no prize either. He judges all rich women harshly to the point that the moment Cherry shows up at his garage in order to get her car fixed, he loses his mind and actually castigates her based on the assumptions he has about her character! And then he loans her his lousy vehicle, knowing full well that it will break down soon and leave her stranded on the roadside on a hot day. This is a hero? Someone hand me my gun. I know there and then that Cherry is stupid because after the unpleasant initial episode with Luke, she insists that she feels some chemistry with Luke. Yes, dear, and the unpleasant stench of ammonia is also due to chemistry in action. Even when Luke sees some sense and realizes that Cherry is too stupid to be anything like Ivana Trump, he turns into a creepy control freak who insists on making all decisions for Cherry.
Because the two characters are so hopelessly unpleasant and chemistry-free, Ms Long puts in some matchmaking secondary characters who insist that Cherry and Luke are meant to be. Throw in a lame subplot designed to let Cherry play the martyr, plenty of eye-rolling "you don't need money, you just need to be yourself!" messages, and a most painful unromantic romance and I can only say that Cherry On Top tastes like sour ameretta.
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