Way To Her Heart
by Melanie Schuster, contemporary (2013)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86297-9


On paper, Melanie Schuster's Way To Her Heart sounds like a typical by-the-numbers Kimani book. Part of a series (of course), this one sees the heroine of this book, Sherry Stratton, feeling the love bug bite after meeting hero Lucas VanBuren at her BFF's wedding to another VanBuren dude. He quickly decides that she's the one for him, while she sort of waffles here and there because she's been burned by love before.

Sherry is a pediatrician who has raised her six-year old Sydney pretty much on her own because the baby daddy didn't want the responsibility and her parents have... issues... with her being a mother without a husband to go with the baby. She has never dated or even felt any hint of desire, or so the author tells me, and I can only wonder whether the poor dear Sherry has some serious hormonal issues that she didn't know about. Still, her libido does a happy dance when she sees Lucas.

Sherry and Lucas are both likable main characters. Like many of the author's previous couples, they have convincing chemistry and their love is believable. It's also great that Sherry is a smart heroine who doesn't take crap even from her parents - good for her - and she has a life that doesn't revolve around searching for a man to get shackled to. Both she and Lucas can be on the perfect side at times, especially Lucas, but the author manages to wrap up the whole perfection thing in a package that still manages to resemble human beings. Likable human beings, that is.

Unfortunately, there is Sydney, that horrible daughter that plots to marry off her mother to Lucas. Not only is she a creepy fifty-seven year old midget woman pretending to be a six-year old, she is also an unnatural plot device. For one, she is a stalker of adult men.

She had several months to observe him, and she was more convinced than ever that he'd be the perfect husband for her mother.

Sydney speaks like an author inserting herself into her own story to scream at the readers that her characters are perfect together.

"Because you're very nice. You talk to everybody and you treat everybody like they're important. You make her laugh. You're very handsome, but that's just a bonus. You have a nice family and they like me. And you're very nice to me."

Which six-year old brat notices things like "you treat everybody like they're important", much less use words like "bonus"?

And Sydney talks to her mother like a patronizing serial-killing animated doll from hell.

"It's very good, Mommy. That's why I want Lucas to be in our family, because it would be even better. I have lots of fun with him, Mommy, and so do you. Don't you want to be with him all the time? I do."

Is this where I remind everyone that Sydney is supposed to be six?

The author seems to be aware of the problem with Sydney, as she has Sydney boasting to Lucas that she is precocious and Sherry thinking that Sydney's persistent matchmaking efforts are intrusive and inappropriate. Merely admitting this, however, is not going to change the fact that I hear the theme song of Jaws every time this bunny-boiling possessed midget opens her mouth and pretends to be so cute. This brat crosses the line from "precocious" to "you're freaking creepy, get the hell away from me, minion of Satan" territory.

Fortunately, the daughter is mostly pushed aside for the bulk of the middle and later portions of the story, maybe to sharpen the knives that she keeps under her dollhouse or something. This is why I manage to finish this story without sprinkling some holy water onto the book. Still, the midget horror leaves a chilling impact even when she's not around, as I turn the pages fearing that she'd pop up and turn this book into a The Daughter Of Chuckie after school special.

Rating: 71


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