Sunday, June 29, 2008

Simply Irresistible by Rachel Gibson ***

I'm still trying to figure this book out. The review on AAR says it's "one of the funnier books I've read this year. It's witty and has some really side-splitting dialogue."

Maybe we read different books. Was this a comedy? Or drama? There wasn't any suspense - no murders - no hidden treasures - no horror. But, funny?

First off, too many details. Forgettable details. Resistible details. A prologue where we find out the heroine Georgie is dyslexic. That her mother left her to be raised by her grandmother. That she isn't considered very bright and should go to charm school to get a husband. A first chapter that serves as prologue #2 where we learn that indeed she went to charm school and has now snared an old, rich fiancé who coincidentally owns a certain hockey team - but doesn't really want to marry him. That she now has a centerfold-worthy body that she thinks is fat. That our hero John is a hard-drinking sumbitch hockey player (for a certain hockey team) that leaves his boss's wedding early and finds the centerfold body in his car asking to be rescued.

That John's father died when he was young. That his mother had 2 jobs so he was raised by his grandparents. That John had a disastrous first marriage to a woman he got pregnant but didn't love, the baby died and his wife committed suicide and he found her body, 1 year ago. That John had a disastrous second marriage to a stripper that lasted less than 24 hours, 6 months after his first wife's suicide.

That Georgie doesn't like sex but uses her charm school wiles and her body to get what she wants from men because that is all she knows. That Georgie is at the end of her rope financially and emotionally - maxed out credit cards, no friends or relatives to fall back on, nowhere to go - and that she's hoping to charm John into keeping her around for a while.

Whew. What a lot of baggage for both of them. Meanwhile, I'm thinking, is this supposed to be funny? Because I'm just not finding humor in a dead baby and dead mother, or in a desperate bimbo and alcoholic athlete either. I kept wondering if I needed to create a cheat sheet to keep track of all the details. Well, one thing leads to another: he takes her to his house to call friends (of which she has none), after a couple of drinks she charms him into bed instead of telling him the truth, somehow miraculously she falls in love during the night, and he - out of the goodness of his hockey-loving heart - buys her a plane ticket home (where she has no one) and leaves her at the airport. Heart broken and...

Well - that was just the first 2 chapters. Fast forward 6 years and, oh, 9 months... Yep - the Secret Child plot is stuck on top of all the other details. My head started spinning. Georgie never left Seattle - she managed to find a job, and now she is co-owner of a catering company, and I had to add all the details of the other owner's life to my cheat sheet. Mae's gay twin brother died, and... well to be honest, none of her backstory and almost none of her story made a lick of sense or added anything to the book. Something about hating athletes because they made fun of her gay twin brother.

OK, Georgie catered a charity event - she's avoided all sports events to keep from running into John - and whooops, as it turns out, John donates to charity. He sees her, runs her down where she, Cinderella-like, drops her purse, leaving her checkbook behind for John to use to run her down again. He shows up at her house, all innocence and light and curious. She's in the shower - but daughter Lexie lets him in to wait because she figures he isn't a stranger because she's seen him before, signing autographs at her school.

Here's a plot device I've seen mumbly-some-odd times before: he recognizes her as his daughter because she looks so much like him, and asks her age, and counts backwards 6 years and 9 months...

Now we start having some Big Misunderstandings. Start a new cheat sheet. He just wants to get to know his daughter - she's afraid he'll lead Lexie on, then get tired of being a dad and stop coming, breaking Lexie's heart. He tells her he'll contact a lawyer if she doesn't let him see her - she overhears a message from his lawyer, leading her to assume he's planning to take custody (or something) when she thought he wasn't going to contact the lawyer. He's a multi-millionaire offering to help with support; she doesn't want his money because she can support them herself on her less-than-adequate earnings.

See - she really is a bimbo.

The second half of the story, where John ends up falling in love with his daughter, is touching, and redeemed the book for me. I really almost just didn't finish it after about chapter 3 because it was getting so ridiculous trying to figure out where we were going on this journey. Was it about bad or negligent parenting and how that shaped their relationship? No, not really. Was it about the obstacles of overcoming dyslexia and becoming self-sufficient? No, that wasn't really a factor at all in the story except for telling us about it in the prologue and chapter 1.

Oh, did I mention the part about how he could lose his job for messing with his boss's fiancée? Well - yeah, that was on his mind 6 years and 9 months ago, and now is an issue again, because the boss is still around although he's now married to someone else.

We do get to see John make a turn-around in his feelings - how his experience shaped his feelings toward Georgie, and he does make a nice recover in the end. With that, I found I can give the book 3 stars. But it's pretty resistible. Sigh.

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