Improper English
by Katie MacAlister, contemporary (2003)
LoveSpell, $6.99, ISBN 0-505-52517-8


Firstly, an off-topic but still somewhat relevant note: I hope you don't believe my 'impressive' endorsement of the author's previous book in this book. A few important words are magically missing from my 'endorsement' - please read the actual review of Noble Intentions if you want to know what I really think of that book. It's not bad, but it's not as great as what I am apparently saying on that inside page of the book.

Now that that's done with, let's take a look at Katie MacAlister's newest one, Improper English. And after that, let's talk a look at me cackling insanely as I brain myself with a barbed baseball bat to get rid of the pain. I'll repeat what I said about the author in Noble Intentions - yes, the author does have a way with wit and humor, but she goes overboard in Improper English. The heroine Alexandra "Alix" Freemar is a twenty-nine year old mess and following her chemistry-free romance with pedophile-buster Alexander Black is an ordeal.

I felt my uterus stutter once or twice as the Alex Scent of Manly Man hit me, but I successfully fought the urge to rip off his clothes and wrestle him to the ground. (page 37)

Impressive. I've lived several decades and my uterus has never stuttered even once. Maybe I must take up yoga or tantra or something. Having a stuttering uterus may be fun on those boring afternoons when there's nobody to talk to. What is it like, anyway, having a stuttering uterus?

"Hello, uterus!"

"H-h-h-ell-lo-o M-m-mrs G!" (Or alternatively, insert really gross sound effects here.)

The Stuttering Uterus is in London freeloading from her mother an apartment where she shares the block with zany and more often than not gay characters. She wants to write a romance novel and thoughtfully reads out the very amusing and very purple scenes of her work-in-progress to anybody who has the misfortune to bump into her. The plot of this book isn't anything more than an An American Stuttering Uterus In London thing, with the Stuttering Uterus' "wacky" antics thoughtfully compartmentalized in chapters so that you can bookmark your favorite chapters that make your own uterus stutter and reread it again and again. Like, this chapter is where the Stuttering Uterus gets a gob of mascara and eyelash stuck on the tablecloth, hee-hee! That chapter is where she wails as she gets her hair cut only to giggle moments later because she looks so bee-yoo-ti-fool with her new hair! Another chapter sees Stuttering Uterus being unable to open her apartment door - isn't that hilarious? And look, there's this chapter where she plays her CD player and the volume blares at maximum because for some reason, the volume control has broken down! And everybody comes in and dance with her! Are you laughing yet?

This book is like a collection of Mr Bean episodes. Only Mr Bean is funny, but Stuttering Uterus is not. I suspect that this is because Mr Bean for the most part keeps his big mouth shut, but there's nothing stopping the Uterus from wailing at the top of her lungs like the siren from hell because Alex prefers to go bust some twisted perverts as opposed to catering to her neurotic spasticity. Alex is a stereotype that won't endear this author to any British readers out there: he has no hobby, no sense of humor, no life, no wit, nothing. He's just there to scowl or disapprove of the Uterus. Of course, I'd act like a dyspeptic bulldog myself if I have to deal with that idiot Uterus, but Alex sleeps with that Uterus. Eeeuw! It's like tragic sex or something.

There are some really good satirical elements in this story. The Uterus' attempt to be a romance author and succeeding too well at being a horrific one isn't as far-fetched as things would seem, and her frustrations at having to change her writings so much to make them sell may earn Ms MacAlister a self-conscious chuckle or two from other romance authors. But ultimately, the Uterus is really too much - she is twenty-nine and a self-confessed loser who spends too long trying her best to live up to her loser status and more. When she starts screaming that a werewolf is out to get her (it isn't me, I swear), I am expecting the alien mothership to appear and zap this stupid woman back to her home planet. When Alex inexplicably tells me that he loves the Uterus towards the end of the book, I wish there's a mothership out there coming to take me away instead. Preferably to a place where the uterus never stutter and everything is blissful and quiet.

Rating: 51


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