The Bride to Be… or Not to Be?
by Debbie Rawlins
(Har. American # 730, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-16730-X
I had a lukewarm response to The Bride to Be...Or Not to Be?, set in the town of Bachelor Falls. The hero was an okay guy. The heroine came across as shallow and immature. Not a promising combination for a love story.

Kelly St. James is about to be married to the steady guy she's grown up with, Gary. Their dream house is just about finished. Even though Kelly knows in her heart that she doesn't truly love Gary with a passion, she buries the thought. Gary will be a stable husband, and besides, the house is to die for…

John Cappel is a carpenter hired to do the finishing work on Kelly's dream house., Kelly is disturbed when she visits the site and discovers not only will the house not be finished by the wedding, but she's attracted to John. He, of course, takes one look at Kelly and begins to fantasize about her body. Kelly manages to act like a spoiled witch, whining about her house and tossing around demands left and right. No matter. John lusts anyway.

The rest of the story is predictable. You know John and Kelly will find out that they're made for each other, don't you? So let's skip that part and go to the biggest problem, as I saw it –– the characters.

John is ex-military, roaming around the country using his carpentry skills while an insistent voice hints that maybe it's time to find a permanent home. I could go for that. What I couldn't understand was his instant attraction to the prickly, self-absorbed Kelly. He gazes at her breasts and her butt, and all the while she's berating him about the house.

Kelly was not nearly well-developed enough as a character to make me empathize with her in the slightest. When we meet her, she's about to marry a man she doesn't love for the sake of a great house and a whole lot of stability. There's little concern about whether she'll make Gary happy or whether he deserves better, as in a wife who truly loves him. Nope. Kelly wants that house, and Kelly is determined to get it. Besides, Gary will make a dependable father for the kids. So what's the motivation behind all this self-centeredness?

Nothing that stands up to scrutiny. Seems Kelly was raised in a commune by her mother, a flower child named Sunshine. It stands to reason that Kelly wants the Ozzie-and-Harriet lifestyle, complete with white picket fence, which embodies the antithesis of her own upbringing, right? But since Kelly was neither abused as a child nor neglected, loved her mother very much, and in fact her greatest injury seems to have been the lack of a Barbie doll, this motivation doesn't hold water.

This is a woman who defines her life goals in terms of a big house and lots of stuff. She has no idea who she is or what she stands for, and no interest in developing herself. She's all surface and no substance, and no growth (in the end, she even gets the house). I didn't respect her and ultimately had no interest in her.

The Bride to Be… Or Not to Be? was not to be, at least for me.

--Cathy Sova

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