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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How to Marry a Millionaire

How to Marry a Millionaire. Contemporary romance.

Torrey Benson wrote a bestseller called How to Marry a Millionaire. As part of the promotion for the book, a popular talk show is hosting a contest based on the book: three contestants get coaching from Torrey and have one month to return to the show engaged to a millionaire. Each of the novellas in this anthology is about one of the contestants.

I have to admit that I wasn't particularly fond of the premise in general, so these stories were a harder sell for me than they might have been otherwise.

  • *** "Rich Man, Poor Man" by Judith Arnold.
    Emilie Storrs is a newly-unemployed social worker whose sister is married to a rich man. She's tired of seeing the worst side of life, and wants to use a rich husband's money to do good. So, following the suggestions in the book, she gets a job as a cocktail waitress at the Golden Key Caribbean Resort.

    Unfortunately, the man she's most interested in is bartender Tyler Weston. If you've ever read a book before, or seen a movie, you know the punchline. If not, I'll hide this in a spoiler: ****Tyler is the owner of the resort chain, undercover to see how his new acquisitions are faring.****

    There isn't much in the way of actual romance in this story--other than the two of them lusting after each other, so I had a bit of a hard time believing they were really in love. There's a bit of very mild suspense as they uncover a prostitution ring, but its resolution is never in any doubt.

  • ***½ "Family Wealth" by Muriel Jensen.
    Millie Brown is an accounting whiz who wants the money to pay for her three half-sisters' educations. To that end, she proposes a marriage of convenience to her new boss, Rio Corrigan, heir to a cigar family fortune. It's not a complete shot in the dark, however: Rio was quoted in a magazine as saying that if he could find a woman who could set his new company's finances straight and warm his bed, he'd marry her in a heartbeat.

    Turns out, Rio has some difficulties of his own, besides the finance system. He's the guardian of his nephew after the deaths of his brother and sister-in-law, deaths he blames himself for, since they were attending a meeting in his place when they were killed.

    This was for me the best story of the three, because the romance made a little more sense. Rio and Millie were both rather lost souls, and each had something to offer the other. They also ended up falling in love convincingly--getting to know each other first. Rio's nephew was a realistic child, as well.

    However, it wasn't perfect--Millie is rather too much of a martyred saint in the way she's willing to sacrifice all for her sisters. And the sisters got on my every last nerve. The premise everything hinged on--Millie needing money to pay for their educations--bothered me too, likely because of my own experience. The sisters are all adults, and I didn't see why they couldn't get jobs to help out, or get educational loans or grants.

  • *** "Once Upon a Husband" by Suzanne Forster.
    The heroine in this story is Torrey herself; the hero, her ex-husband Kit McGrath. They'd been high school sweethearts, married when Torrey had thought she was pregnant, and divorced when Kit was more focused on his hockey career than on his marriage.

    Fast-forward 15 years, and Torrey's been married again and widowed, this time to a rich man, which gave her the idea for the book. At least, he seemed to be a rich man until he died and left her only debts.

    Now Kit is the third contestant in the contest, and he seems to be trying to sabotage her, just when she desperately needs her book to succeed because she's completely broke.

    I usually like second-chance stories, but this one seems to lack direction. Kit doesn't really do much to try to get Torrey back until near the end of the story. In a longer book, this would be a decent plot--the clueless hero is a particular favorite of mine--but it's not developed enough here. Then there's Kit's disastrous "pursuit" of the 20-years-older Bubbles, with a twist, but that's not developed enough either. And there's the running gag/theme of body language signals which, you guessed it, isn't developed enough.

    It would have been a better story if it had focused on just one of those elements, or if it had been long enough to include them all.

Overall, this wasn't a bad anthology. I'd bought it at the flea market at 3/$1, so the price was definitely right. And as quick beach reads (literally, in this case), they were fine.


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