|Lois Richer: Mother's Day Miracle|
Hill Books (Paperback), ISBN 0-373-87107-4
Left at the altar years before, mild-mannered librarian Clarissa Cartwright finds her emotional scars re-opened by a friend's wedding. Back at the library, Clarissa prays for a husband and children to love. No sooner does the prayer leave her mouth than in strides the dashing Wade Featherhawk, looking for a book for his bird-loving "son."
Seeking to make a new start, Wade and his four rambunctious charges moved into town in Clarissa's absence. But that didn't stop the well-intentioned busybodies of their tiny Michigan town from matchmaking. Predictably, Wade wants no part in the process. But rather than clamming up or avoiding Clarissa once she introduces herself, he broadsides her with a verbal barrage designed to convince her he doesn't need a wife.
Wade's behavior in the opening scene seemed so contrary to my understanding of the Male Animal that I bounced it off my live-in expert. He concurred. Most men in similar circumstances wouldn't behave this way no matter how much pent-up frustration and anger they harbor. Realizing that it sometimes takes an author a few scenes to hit stride with a character, I kept reading, hoping to see improvement. I never did. Clarissa's friends and her internal monologue paint Wade as "the strong, silent type," but he never acts the part. Richer also fails to provide any description of his Cree heritage other than vague references to "the reservation." Richer could've just as easily labeled him a Sioux or Cherokee, for all the difference it would have made to the story.
Clarissa's portrayal doesn't fare much better. Aside from a nice scene where she "stands by her man," her actions and reactions feel less like a real person's than a puppet's. Clarissa and Wade intrepidly cross the threshold of matrimony to prevent the town's Chief Busybody from filing a petition to put Wade's nieces and nephews into foster care. But the couple's subsequent attempts to heal their wounded pasts and make the marriage work never quite ring true. Usually, it takes years to develop the depth of mutual trust necessary for a strong marriage, but Wade and Clarissa accomplish this feat in mere weeks. Maybe that's the miracle, but I didn't find it too believable.
I give Richer a point for her depiction of the children as unique and endearing individuals without having them steal the show, as sometimes happens with blended-family romances. Another half-point goes for technical skill in handling the characters' viewpoints, even though I didn't agree with their psychological makeup. All things considered, I've endured far worse tortures in recent weeks. Just check the archives.
Kim D. Headlee
Kim D. Headlee is the author of Blue Boa Award winner Dawnflight, a novel about the legend of Guinevere garnering rave reviews and other award nominations from romance and fantasy venues alike.
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