Wanted: A HusbandDecember 2, 2013
So, here is a thing that could pass for a description of a book, or possibly a Hallmark Christmas movie, minus the Christmas:
A girl manufactures a fictional fiancé to show up her dismissive roommates. She tells them she’s getting married the day after their double wedding. When she gets on the train for the country retreat she’s planned for her “honeymoon,” she discovers that her friends and their husbands are on the same train, because the friend who lent her his farmhouse has also lent them houses on the same property. She talks the nearest man into impersonating her fiancé, only to find that he’s her crush, disguised in order to avoid the man who’s trying to serve him with a subpeona.
Weirdly, those are the parts of Wanted: A Husband that I didn’t like. Also, that is just the second half of the book. The first half is a makeover book, and I kind of love it.
The heroine is Darcy Cole, a graphic artist living in an apartment with two other girls, Maud and Helen, both of whom have recently become engaged. Darcy is the cranky, dull, disheveled one. She receives no male attention, ever, and doesn’t seem likely to, which is why the opening of the book finds her at the door of her friend Gloria Greene. Gloria is an actress, and a generally pretty awesome person, and, after warning Darcy that it’s not going to be easy or cheap, she offers to make her over.
I love makeover books, I guess. And this — well, it’s Samuel Hopkins Adams. And there’s a grumpy trainer. And Darcy becomes nicer as she becomes more physically fit. The whole sequence is so deeply appealing to me that I don’t know what to do with myself. Mostly I just wish there was more detail.
Once Darcy’s new good looks and attractive personality are faits accomplis, Wanted: A Husband loses momentum. I mean, the fake engagement scenario is fun, for sure — see Patricia Brent, Spinster — and I understand that the whole first half of the book is setup for it, but maybe that’s not where the book wanted to go. And it’s not just my partiality for the makeover section — both halves of the book would have been better if they’d had more space to move. Almost every plot point would have been better for being expanded upon. Still, it’s a delightful, Samuel Hopkins Adams-y romp, and it’s full of bits that couldn’t have been improved upon, like Maud’s fiancé’s appreciation of Darcy, Gloria’s dislike of Maud and Helen, and Jack Remsen and Tom Harmon’s defeat of the subpoena-server. And honestly, I almost never think the second half of a book lives up to the first half, or that a book I like wouldn’t have been even better if it was more detailed, so maybe it’s just me.