The Pregnant Ms. Potter

Staying Single

The Trials of Angela

The Trouble with Mary

True Love

Suddenly Single by Millie Criswell
(Flipside #21, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-44195-9
She’s 27 years old. She has no skills and hates “working regular hours and conforming to other people’s rules and regulations”, which is why she can’t hold a job for more than a few months. She ran off to Vegas and married a man she picked up in a bar and knew a total of three weeks. Three months later, she’s back home, marriage on the rocks. She’d like to move back in with her parents, but they insist on telling her what a screwup she is. She thinks “being an adult sucks”. She still loves her husband, but refuses to speak to him. No! Her mind is made up! She wants a divorce!

Give me one good reason why I’d want to read about this “heroine” who is Suddenly Single.

Lisa Morelli (see above) did indeed marry Alexander Mackenzie, successful mortgage banker, after a whirlwind romance. For some reason never explained in the book, right after the elopement Alexander decided they should leave Philadelphia and move back to Florida, where they’d live with his upper-crust parents. The parents, stereotypically snobbish, refused to accept Lisa, and Alexander didn’t stick up for her. So she left in a huff. (She might have explained all this to Alexander and discussed it, but that would have involved some maturity, so guess not.)

Lisa arrives back in Philadelphia and finds that - surprise! – few jobs exist for someone with no skills who doesn’t like working regular hours. Lisa does like to bake, so she lands a job in her favorite bakery. Alex wants his wife back and is determined to woo her. When he returns to Philadelphia, Lisa refuses to give him the time of day, though he still turns her on and she can’t get the memory of their sexual escapades out of her mind.

Alexander wasn’t a bad sort, but Lisa was just flat-out obnoxious. Immature, self-absorbed, and self-righteous, this book would have no conflict at all except that she acts like a thirteen-year-old. The entire issue could have been cleared up with one thoughtful conversation. Given her maturity level, that’s not about to happen, and the reader has to sit thought endless renditions of Lisa spouting indignantly, “It was all a mistake! It’s not going to work!”

It’s not funny. And it’s definitely not fun to read.

The story meanders along, with Alex trying to get close to Lisa and Lisa refusing to do anything to help the situation. By the middle of the book, I was tired of them both – Lisa for her childish behavior and Alex for not bailing and heading off to find a decent woman. But hey, they’re good in the sack, so it must be love. The romance is obviously weak, so the author brings in the mothers-in-law to help push the story forward. This too, falls flat. Alex’s mother does a lightning-fast turnaround in a matter of paragraphs, mostly based on the possibility that Lisa might be pregnant. Once again, throw a baby into the story and all is forgiven.

Harlequin has already announced they’re shutting down the Flipside line in a few months. Translation: the books aren’t selling like hotcakes. I’d ask the Flipside editors, who apparently styled these books as Chick-lit Lite, to consider this: Women behaving like idiots, causing their own problems through their bullheadedness, don’t make for amusing reads. Even less amusing is a woman in her late twenties who still thinks and acts like an adolescent. None of the twenty-something women I know act remotely like this, and I think they’d be embarrassed to be portrayed as such.

Suddenly Single is singularly annoying. Don’t waste your money.

--Cathy Sova

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