Tuesday, April 7

Simply Irresistible - Rachel Gibson

Hockey star John "the Wall" Kowalsky is at his Fortune 500 manager's wedding to a trophy wife out of necessity - you don't cross Virgil Duffy and maintain your career. He was prepared to put in an appearance, but that's about the extent of his involvement - hung over and disinterested, John leaves before the wedding even starts. On his way to the car, a '66 Corvette, he's waylaid by a pretty young thing in a hot pink dress who begs a lift. It's not until they're miles away that he discovers she is the intended trophy wife. If Virgil finds out then John's career is over, and that's not a sacrifice he's prepared to make, no matter how toothsome the ditz might be.
Georgeanne Howard was always more interested in tea parties than math, but when she overheard a doctor telling the grandmother who raised her (after her mother abandoned her at birth without so much as a backward glance) that she has a brain dysfunction, Georgie was determined that no one will over know her secret shame. Instead she'll make the most of her looks and marry well; Virgil looked perfect, but when it came down to it Georgie knows her reluctance was due to more than cold feet. John isn't a suitable substitute - he's arrogant and opinionated, and though he's undeniably hot he drinks all the time. The chemistry between them might be too much to resist, but when John unceremoniously dumps Georgie at the airport with a ticket home she knows she'll never forgive him. Discovering she's pregnant doesn't change that, either.
The combination of romance and sports stars strongly reminded me of Susan Elizabeth Phillips's work, and the style isn't dissimilar either. Georgie recreates herself and becomes an independent success, and John makes changes in his life too, so when they meet again some years later it's not precisely as the same people.
There's an irritating lack of honest communication that, though consistent with the way the characters are drawn, was nonetheless a little too convenient, and I could have done without the comparisons (one character looks and acts like James Dean, another bears "a striking resemblance to Burgess Meredith") but it was fortunately sparse enough to move past.
The most impressible characterisation was Lexie, the daughter Georgeanne has chosen to raise alone - Gibson has done a great job conveying the way little kids think. When, for example, John turns up at Georgeanne's house unannounced, though her mother's warned her not to let strangers into the house Lexie reasons 1) that he's not a stranger because he came to her school, and 2) that he must have come to sign her things because she missed out on that occasion.
I wasn't excited enough by Simply Irresistible to track down the rest of Gibson's oeuvre but I won't run away screaming if I see her, either. - Alex

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