|I’m a big fan of contemporary romance, but I’ll be overjoyed when this fad of “contemporary romantic comedy” has run its course. Maybe then readers will get the occasional romance that’s truly funny, instead of the current crop of forced, humorless books such as Take Me, I’m Yours. Well, this much can be said: it is “contemporary”. The “romantic” and “comedy” parts barely register.
Keaton Hamilton Danning III is a sort of charge d’affaires for the spoiled, deposed Prince Reynaldo of Pelagia, a tiny tourist mecca whose exasperated citizenry booted out the useless prince. His aspirations of being a prime minister now dashed, Keaton now spends his time sailing the seas on the royal yacht, keeping the prince out of trouble and bemoaning the fact that his money is frozen in Pelagia bank accounts. So he’s stuck, even though his parents run a prosperous horse farm in Virginia and would no doubt welcome him home for a while if necessary. But then there would be no plot to this book.
Ruby Runyon, raised in a trailer park in ridiculously-named Appalachimahoochee, Florida, left home and headed for Miami at eighteen with dreams of being an actress. She’s apparently done little to further this ambition, such as enroll in acting classes or workshops. Instead, she's working as a waitress at a comedy club and currently dating a good-looking guy named Jimmy Golden. When she finds out that he’s married and is connected to the mob, Ruby panics and, in her attempt to get away from him, crashes a party on the Pelagia royal yacht. Ruby manages to escape notice by everyone except Keaton, who notices the “keen wit and intelligence” in her eyes. He also notices her great hooters.
Good thing Keaton finds Ruby keenly witty and intelligent, because she quickly descends into Blithering Idiot Hell. How would a keenly witty and intelligent heroine handle a mess like this? By quietly telling this nice, pleasant man, “Look, I’m trying to avoid a guy who's threatening me; if I can just wait here for an hour or so, I’ll leave and nobody will be the wiser”? Of course not. No, Ruby decides to lie her way out of the situation. She gives her name as Euphemia Philippa Wemberly-Stokes, aka "Babs", and by the way, she’s an actress, and her stage name is Rita Q. Moreno, and yes! She was invited to this party! Certainly she was! And, uh, she stammers a lot. And dumps her drink on Keaton. And does all sorts of other painfully unfunny things. By the time Ruby finds out that the yacht is headed for the Bahamas and she has no travel documentation, she’s in way over her head, courtesy of her keen wit and intelligence.
Okay, so Ruby and Keaton are going to sail around the Caribbean, trying to keep their hands off each other. Ruby thinks Keaton is too high-class for her and their worlds would never mesh. Keaton reluctantly agrees. Meanwhile, Reynaldo’s fiancée, who’s tired of his neglect, strikes up a romance with the ship’s bartender. The German chef and his pet Dachshund, both named Kurt, rip around brandishing cleavers and baring teeth. (Don’t worry, it will be pointed out who is doing the brandishing, baring, etc. - about fifteen times, in the unlikely event that a reader can't figure it out.)
Huge chunks of this book are narrative passages full of throwaway lines. These segments seem to go on forever. One chapter opens with Keaton trying to give Ruby some polish by showing her which silverware to use:
“Okay, Ruby, lesson number four. ‘Flatware is Your Friend.’ “
From there, we segue into a long, long interior monologue in which Ruby rehashes her life, her dating career, her attraction to Keaton, why she’s not good enough for him, etc. Seven pages later, the conversation resumes, at least for about six lines, then Ruby attempts to spear a shrimp and dumps over the entire bowl.
Okay. So here we have Ruby: requisite hot bod encompassing a lying, inept nincompoop with low-self-esteem. And Keaton: sailing around the world on a luxury yacht and whining about his life, but never dredging up the gumption to leave the ship. Then there’s Gus, the bartender, who is conveniently not what he seems; and Arabella, the countess, stuck in an engagement arranged when she was two, for crying out loud, even though she readily admits her parents want her to be happy, and married to the loutish Prince Reynaldo won’t do it. A yacht is a perfect setting for this aimless, drifting cast of characters, none of whom tickled this reader’s funny bone.
Most of the humor in this book is based on the premise that readers will find heroines like Ruby to be a laff riot. But since we’re asked to laugh at her ineptness, not with her, it’s not going to work for a lot of people. Readers who don’t particularly want to identify with a nitwit heroine will find the romance as flat as I did, though Gus and Arabella at least have sparks of realism, not to mention heat. So - humor, no. Romance, not enough.
Well, it is a contemporary. But in the end, Take Me, I’m Yours could well describe my copy of this book. Anybody else want it? I recommend some of Elizabeth Bevarly’s other works, instead.