On A Wing And A Prayer
by Linda Walters, contemporary (2002)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-355-6


Lovely title, isn't it? On A Wing And A Prayer also has a lovely cover, it's really too bad the hero Michael Townsend is not only a slimy player, he is an insensitive and pretentious and condescending straw-dingdong. He reminds me of all the lousy dates I've ever been through, and therefore, in a romance novel, this is not a good thing at all.

This is basically a courtship story, with some bewildering external elements thrown in for padding. Lauren Taylor is a flight attendant, and her golden rule is that she will never date the men she meet on the job, no matter how attractive the men can be. And I like it that she has been tempted to more than a few times. When she meets DJ and radio hotshot Michael "Maestro M" Townsend, however, she gets really, really tempted.

The rest of the story then pretty much deals with he and she going about in a tug-and-war thing (he wants, she doesn't, come on baby, ooh don't want darling, you know you want to, noooo, yeeessss, noooooo, yessss, et cetera). Lauren could have been a decent heroine, as she is a nice change for a heroine: she's pretty, she knows it, and she is in command of her sexuality until she meets Maestro M here. With M here in her life, she turns into a neurotic virgin whose brain cells die more and more with the turning of the pages.

But she's nothing compared to Maestro M, M for Moron, no doubt. When we first meet Moron, here's his charming atttude towards women: "He believed women came in two categories, those whom he wanted to spend time with socially, and those whom he could put to some other good use". Dude, that comes out so bloody wrong. When Lauren tells him about her parents' divorce, his reaction is "She was beautiful, stubborn, vulnerable and everything he'd ever wanted". What's that "everything", I have no idea.

And here's his lovely romantic evocation of post-coital tenderness:

"Why didn't you tell me you were a virgin? I broke a cardinal rule thinking you were probably on the pill or some form of birth control. I cannot believe we were both so careless."

Charming, isn't it, that the responsibility of birth control lies solely on the women?

Lauren isn't any better, her brain cells all having atrophied by now. She's more offended by the fact that he dares suggest that she's an experienced woman. Birth control, apparently, is a cardinal sin. I wonder how she feels after she has popped out seven brats and there are sextuplets on the way. I bet she'll beg on the streets for IUD hand-outs, that stupid beanbag.

I really loathe that man. When he's not thinking of her in terms of her naked and legs splayed open, he's talking to her in a most condescending manner. He says that he hates the players and hypocrites around him, but he's the biggest player of them all. Even his background is skeevy - he's an overprivileged brat who screwed and slutted his way through college, and now he whines that his life isn't completely perfect as he'd liked. He loves Lauren because, er, let's see, she's "everything". She loves him because he's, er, I don't know why she loves him, frankly.

Clumsy prose is one thing, but the clunky characterizations of both main characters are so subpar that I can't even work up a smidgen of fondness for any of them. Maestro Moron is complete slimeball, and Lauren becomes more and more neurotic in a tragic man-hating way as the story progresses. And they're procreating in the last chapter. Oh gawd. Add in irritating plot elements like miscommunications and surprise pregnancies, topped off with archaic sexual norms, and On A Wing And A Prayer is like a modern dating guidebook for the thoroughly neurotic and disenfranchised.

Rating: 46


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