by Lynn Michaels, contemporary (2005)
Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-345-47600-X
There are what seems like a thousand bitchy characters in this book but this book is not the Arrested Development sitcom mated with Sabrina like it could have been if the hero Chase McKay isn't so brainless and the heroine Dory Lambert isn't trying so hard to match Chase when it comes to having gruel as brain.
Dory of the wealthy Lamberts has been in love with Chase since she was fourteen and he was a nineteen-year old son of the chauffeur. Not even her spying on him with his hand between her sister Jill's legs dampen her affections for him (she reasons that Jill made him put his hand between her legs). Jill and Chase are discovered by their parents and Chase was sent off to college (the expenses borned by the Lamberts) as a result.
Sixteen or so years later, Dory is back to help her family extricate itself from an embezzlement that resulted in the FBI scrutinizing the family very closely. Back into her life just when it is complicated enough is Chase. Never mind that they paid for his education that led him to become the billionaire architect that he is today, the brainless idiot Chase treats Dory pretty badly at times and eventually marries Jill. Only then does he decide that he really want Dory. Is this where I say, "Give me a break!" and then do a karate chop on this book?
I am never fond of stories that pit sister against sister so this book already has some work cut out to win me over. Jill is naturally the selfish one, which makes her the "bad" foil to Dory's "good" selfless nitwit self. I already have a hard time sympathizing with a billionaire hero who is carrying a grudge on a family that is on hard times just because the family halted his teenaged attempt to shag the oldest daughter. I am not amused by the supposedly-intelligent Dory's holding out for Chase when he treats her badly only to then abet Jill in some stupid scheme that plays a part in helping Jill land Chase. A heroine who chooses to keep playing the wronged victim is not appealing to me and Dory seems to hold on to the "Jill made him do it" excuse a little too long - sixteen years too long.
Indeed, instead of actually trying to get Chase to redeem himself, the author instead turns Jill into the selfish bint who ironically frees Chase from their marriage by being herself. Ms Michaels seems to believe that having Chase determined to bed Jill and lust after Dory in his mind will somehow make Chase "heroic" just as getting Dory to stand by the sidelines and mope after Chase is equally "noble". Give me a break. Extinction is too good for Chase and Dory. Because the main characters never truly learn anything or work to get their relationship straightened out (circumstances and secondary characters do all the work in getting them together), their happy ending doesn't ring real despite Chase's grovel to Dory at the way he has treated her. I mean, yeah, he grovels but he's also proven than he has some big amount of dumb stuck in his head. Is he going to keep doing stupid things and then grovel for the rest of this dubiously happy marriage? Of course, knowing Dory, she'd keep taking him back because we all know that a childhood infatuation is the strongest foundation ever to true and concrete adult love.
The secondary characters are expectedly noisy, boisterous, and silly but as much as the author tries to get them to keep the story pumped at its most humorous level, the hopelessly idiotic and utterly unlikeable main characters are doing a better job at ruining the story for me. Frankly, I'd stick to the excellent sitcom Arrested Development than to make another unpleasant reacquaintance with the bricks-for-brain Chase and the enabler dimwit Dory.
This book at Amazon.com
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