Waiting For You
by Kasey Michaels, historical/paranormal (2000)
Warner, $6.99, ISBN 0-446-60584-0


Cluny and Clancy are two ragamuffin actors whose dream of traipsing on the London stage are still yet to come. They know they have taken a wrong turn somewhere, however, when they end up cowering behind a large couch in August Coltrane's drunken debauchery parties. In an attempt to escape their crazy employer, they stumble upon th enursery, however, and fall in love with the nine-month old ward of August, Meredith Fairfax, and August's young boy Jack.

With the help of the kind estate manager, they decide to stay on to guide these two children to adulthood.

Meredith and Jack grow into adolescence under the care and careful tutelage of these two men and their assorted assistants and temporary tutors, and predictably, Meredith and Jack become each other's first crush. Singularly and one-dimensionally evil August, however, rip them apart in One Heinous Night, causing Jack to flee to God-knows-where. But not before Jack and Meredith got married first.

Chapter Nine, Jack is back. He is now rich, handsome, and he wants in on his wife's new life as mistress of their estates (the daddy August is - thankfully - dead). Meredith isn't so forgiving however - Jack has vanished for five years without any news, and this mule steps back into her life and expect her to hands things over? NO FARKIN' WAY!

Cluny and Clancy, alas, have passed away from an epidermic disease two years back, but their ghosts still hover around, trying to matchmake these two youngsters back into each other's arms. Between Shakespeare quotes and poltergeist antics, these two have a long way to go.

Waiting For You gets lots of bonus points for its different storytelling angle and its really feitsy and intelligent heroine, Meredith. Merry, as she likes to be called, refuses to give Jack any easy way out. Boy, she is not happy to be kept in the cold, waiting, waiting, and waiting for her callously negligent husband to come home. And she never hesitates in letting Jack know that in his thoughtlessness, he has forced her to remain in the same house with his cruel father, abandoning all her dreams of adventures just to freakin' WAIT for that DONKEY BACKSIDE of a man. You go, Merry! Rip him good!

And things get better when we all realize that while August Coltrane may be becoming Hell's denizens' favorite pork roast, he still has a legacy of lies and secrets that can tear everything apart.

I enjoyed Waiting For You, but I must say I want to clobber Jack hard. I dislike this man utterly. He is self-absorbed, thoughtless, and worst of all, he never listens to Merry. When Merry first tries to tell him how she feels (and she does it most eloquently), he is wondering if the sound he heard is Cluny and Clancy trapising about. Then he wonders a lot of things while Merry talks on, until finally, I see red. It's always the same. Every time Merry tries to ask him to compromise, to stop seeing her as a child and let her make her own choices, he tunes out. "It's me! I'm not good enough for you!" is his excuse to act like a mule.

Why can't he tell Merry why he is away for five years without replying to her letters, I don't know. When he regrets not coming back earlier to tell Cluny and Clancy his stories before they died, I see volcanoes exploding in my eyes because in the same breath, he reasons that he can keep Merry in the dark further because "she will never understand".

Merry is obviously besotted with him, and I think it is cruel of him to keep treating her like a child. It's all his way, his right, his decisions, and hey, he is always correct. Merry is a much better woman than me; if I'm Merry, I'd be vomiting blood in my exasperation by now.

And when the reason of his silence comes out, it's a no-brainer blown-out-of-proportion material. Pity Merry never give him a good left hook right there and then. What a jerk that Jack is.

I can't help feeling sorry for Merry. Every time she tries to straighten her feelings out, there would be some annoying cheerleading secondary character around insisting to her that she loves Jack, and she is angry with him because she loves him. Hello? Let the lady make up her own mind, please! Like I said, Merry's a better woman than me, she never exploded into a scream, "Leave me alone!" like I would. It grows to a pitch where I really feel that Merry is never given a choice - she must love Jack, she must want Jack.

Such ardent cheerleading from busybody know-it-alls also allow Jack to slip deeper into his self-absorbed martyr status. "She will never understand. She doesn't understand. Oh, why can't she sees things I do?" Because you're a block of wood and she isn't, that's why, you jackass.

Still, for Merry who manages to retain her dignity and stand proud, I'm willing to forgive. With the provisio that Jack will be henpecked for life. And for Jack the jackass's sake, I hope he never lets his wife get her hands on a copy of DH Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover.

Rating: 81


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