Comfort And Joy
by Sandra Madden, historical (2001)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7217-1


Comfort And Joy features a crap amnesia thing, ridiculous secondary characters (or more accurately, caricatures), crap premise, and I bet historical accuracy sticklers will burst this one's bubble faster than I can say "Oops!"

Still, there is something subversive and outright enjoyable about this one, bad plot and all. It's not campy. It's just a very well done rescue and pamper fantasy that works.

Charles Rycroft is a publishing tycoon who is arrogant and lives in the upper circles of the Bostonian elite. He gets robbed one day, clobbered so bad that he loses his memory, and wakes up amnesiac in the bed of Irish maid Maeve O'Malley. By maid, I really do mean maid, by the way. The servant sort of maid, not the euphemism for "innocent dimbulb". Maeve, the kindhearted soul she is, rescues Charles but Charles think she's one of his girlfriends and puckers up most beautifully. Maeve's brother bursts into the scene and it's wedding bells time.

When Charles recovers his memory in a most amazing miracle way only Plot Devices can be, he decides to repay Maeve for her kindness. However, there's no way they can be married, right? I mean, look at her! Look at him!

Still, he will take her into his house to meet the Bitch Mother and all the Snobby Friends, dress her up pretty, and put lots of money in her bank account so that she will never go wanting again. Provided, of course, they divorce after Christmas.

But Maeve wants to show Charles that she can fit in, so she undergoes a self-study My Fair Lady crash course. Charles becomes enamored of his bride and oh, the pamper fantasy that ensue! Charles is so protective and sensitive that I am touched (even if half the time he could have just told off the snobs and spare Maeve her pain). And Maeve is so sweet, so pathetic, her attempts to be a good wife make me go "Awww!" And how many romance heroes feel like a new man after shagging his wife? Sweet.

The rational, curmudgeon part of me is appalled by all this silly pamper-and-weepie nonsense. But it's Christmas. You know, bells and carols and children and little match girls dying of cold and all. Aww. What a sweet story Comfort And Joy is. And how lucky for it, it's Christmas and I'm in a sappy mood to want a Charles Rycroft of my own.

Rating: 84


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