Her Only Chance

Mad About Maddie

The Marriage Masquerade

Wild Flower

Popping The Question
by Cheryl Anne Porter
(St. Martin’s, $6.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-312-98282-8
Dianna West is the proprietor of a unique business in Porter’s latest romantic comedy. Popping The Question is a marriage-proposal service. Those looking to “pop the question” to their significant other come to Dianna - who sets up exciting, romantic settings for her clients to do the deed. She has gotten quite a bit of media attention, and currently has a 100% track record (everyone has said “yes”) - that is until Chris Adams walks in the door.

Chris is a dot-com millionaire looking to finally propose to his long-time girlfriend, district attorney, Veronica. Their relationship is comfortable, and getting married seems like the logical next step - so he goes to Popping The Question to help him set everything up. Then he meets Dianna, sparks fly, and complications quickly ensue.

Dianna is no fool, and while she would like a man in her life, she knows the last place she wants to meet him is at her job. The men that walk through her door are already committed. Therefore, while she finds herself wildly attracted to Chris, she’s determined to fight that attraction with everything she has.

Enjoyment of Popping The Question hinges solely on whether or not the reader can get past the fact that the hero is committed to another woman for a large portion of the book.

I kind of liked Dianna at first. A marriage proposal service first struck me as silly - I say if you love the person, just ask them already - but the author includes a nice back-story on how our heroine came up with the idea. It is rather clever and different, so I immediately thought she must have some brains in her head.

Unfortunately, the story reduces her into a twittering ninny regarding our hero. I can understand being attracted to a man, regardless of the fact if he’s available or not, but Chris is so clearly off limits, that I wonder why Dianna continues to fantasize about him. A man with an almost wife is like a bucket of cold water in my mind, and there are several scenes where Dianna is reduced to jealous fits.

Chris a vague sort of hero, as the story is largely heroine-driven, but the glimpses that are offered are a tad unsavory. Our boy is proposing out of obligation to Veronica, but flirting with our heroine, Dianna. He also keeps up with his proposal plans for the majority of the story. Words like sneaky, lying, and scumbag kept drifting through my mind and never really let go.

Veronica is largely off screen until the ending when the author has to find a way to write her out of Chris’ life. This climax smacks of a Jerry Springer catfight and I swear the term “my man” was used. The whole thing had me massaging my temples.

The humor is largely slapstick and while I could have done without most of it, I did enjoy several dialogue exchanges between the romantic couple. When Dianna compares dot-com millionaires to leprechauns, I literally was laughing out loud.

Readers looking for over-the-top slapstick humor may find Popping The Question right up their alley. The whole thing kind of reads like a comedy of errors. Those who don’t like female characters to descend into cat fighting, and don’t enjoy their hero being involved with another woman, would do wise to think twice.

--Wendy Crutcher

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