The Wedding Escape
by Karyn Monk, historical (2003)
Bantam, $5.99, ISBN 0-553-58440-5


Jack Kent first appeared as the Oliver Twist "Bluestocking Samaritan Heroine Wanna Be A Mommy Now" plot device in Karyn Monk's The Prisoner. Now he is all grown up and this is his story. Hugely predictable twists and turns and a heroine who is a bit on the silly side however make The Wedding Escape the perfect getaway to mudanity and doldrums.

Ex-thief, son of a whore, and Daddy Unknown (that sounds like a Harlequin book title, doesn't it?), Jack Kent is now rich and wealthy. But he is a commoner. Do not fear, a secret titled daddy courtesy of the author will remedy that situation towards the end of the story. This is not a spoiler: the B-plot of the story has Jack's father tracking him down in this story. One day, he is attending the wedding of American heiress Amelia Belford to the Duke of Whitcliffe. Bored, his day takes a turn for the more exciting when he finds himself aiding the said heiress in her fleeing the arranged marriage she doesn't want.

Amelia loves another guy, Percy Something, whose name doesn't matter because like all heroines are wont to do, they are heinously wrong whenever they try to make a decision on their meagre brainpower. Percy turns out to be avaricious, gay, perverted, traitorous, and impoverished - let's just say when it comes to stepping into potholes, Amelia baby here takes a flying leap right down the Grand Canyon. Whitcliffe turns out to be avaricious, perverted, traitorous, impoverished, and I'm certain he's not gay, though heaven knows, at the rate Ms Monk is going regarding her villains, he may as well be.

At this point, half the book is over. So now, stuck with the brainless import from America, Jack wonders what to do. His winkie has lots of suggestions. But as he is the son of a whore - let the orchestra play the violinic muzak, eeek, eek, eeeek, eeek! - so they surely cannot be! And since he doesn't act on his lusty nature, she is certain that she is unlovable now that she is penniless and cut off from her family, so what now? Eeeek, eeek, eeek, eeeeeek! They muddle around until Amelia's intended catches up with them, his father bestows the Dollar Ex Machina on everybody, and Jack now is filled with calm and confidence with himself. Amelia gets into trouble one last time, and this time, his ego is miraculously healed so he can finally marry her. So finally, pretty and vacant Amelia finally gets a beloved husband.

Amelia becomes a bit more brainy towards the end, but the story is such that she is still more often than not in the wrong whenever she tries to make her own decision. Everyone around her knows better than her when it comes to making her choices in life. She proposes to Jack in the end, true, but that's because she needs to be married as much as she wants to. No matter what it tries to be, this is still a story of a woman who needs a man to save her and finding love while she's at it is just a matter of happenstance.

It's not the worst book I've read, but it's certainly not the best either definitely. Good writing aside, the uninspiring story and the characters that rarely deviate from familiar archetypes all add up to one so-so yawner of a book. There's no escape from the mighty predictable in this one.

Rating: 62


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