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Tuesday, June 24, 2008


** Response by Penny Jordan. Contemporary romance.

O. M. G. If they gave out RITAs for cheese, this book would definitely be a finalist.

Multi-lingual secretary Sienna falls deeply in love at first sight... no, make that love at first glimpse with Greek tycoon Alexis Stefanides when he shows up at the agency, requesting her services.

And he's likewise smitten... or at least so he says, and so Sienna believes, until after she gives him her virginity and he reveals he was only after revenge against her brother.

They fight; she runs off... and gets hit by a car... and ends up with amnesia. And Alexis marries her in the hospital during a brief episode of consciousness.

I'd better stop there before I summarize the whole plot. You get the idea, anyway.

We know Sienna was deeply in love because she says so. Repeatedly. Problem is, her definition of love (and Alexis's as well, so I suppose they're made for each other) is physical attraction. She has the hots for him; ergo, it's Twoo Wuv. And when she objects to Alexis using her for revenge, his answer is basically that she loves him anyway because he can give her orgasms.

I'm actually tempted to give this more stars just for the (unintentional) humor. Here's a sample so you can see what I mean:
"...I am still a virgin because I have never looked at any other man the way I look at you. I have never loved any man before you...."

"And will not love any man after me. I shall imprint myself on your heart and body so that you will never forget me. We have not yet made love, but already I know how you will feel in my arms, how you will taste against my lips, how sweetly you will cry my name and abandon yourself to me."
The dialogue is similarly overwrought throughout the book. And it hits most of the major cliches: love at first sight, revenge, amnesia, love = lust, and the heroine who's in love with the hero but pretends she isn't because she thinks he doesn't love her.

Alexis is all the things I dislike about 80s romance heroes: basically, he's a paternalistic jerk, and a borderline rapist. If it weren't so cheesy, I'd have been seriously angry about his coercing Sienna into sex to prove she still loved him.

Even the amnesia, which is normally a guilty pleasure for me, didn't help, because it didn't last long and there was no mystery to it. It lasted just long enough for Alexis to prove how very creepy he was. Granted, he didn't know she had amnesia when he married her, but that doesn't gain him any points, because she wasn't lucid enough to show she had amnesia.

And Sienna, well... she reminded me of when my daughter was about 14 and in love with a boy she'd never actually talked to. The dramatics were pretty similar, too. Frankly, Sienna's as much of a drama queen as any teenage girl: her emotions are all exaggerated--she either loves him or hates him; she's either ecstatic or furious. There's no moderation, and the wild emotional shifts don't require much in the way of motivation, either. I'm thinking she could benefit from a good mental health exam... or a few years more maturity.

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