Miss Bates felt sorry for Joan Kilby’s innocuous little romance novel, Mad About You. Wait, wasn’t that the sentimental TV series that celebrated marriage and went head-to-head with Seinfeld for popularity? Miss Bates watched one episode of Mad About You and can recite reams of Seinfeld dialogue … hence, the spinsterhood. As went Mad About You, thus went Kilby’s Mad About You, Miss Bates’ read immediately after Lin’s sublime Jade Temptress. It just couldn’t win. It was a pleasant enough read, but derivative: plot points and characterization identifiable from the get-go. Moreover, Kilby’s friends-to-lovers trope choice is Miss Bates’ least favourite, though she admits when it’s done well by masters of the genre, it’s fabulous. She’s read Mayberry, O’Keefe, Alward and Bliss’s use and admits they’re some of her favourites (Anything For You, His Wife For One Night, How A Cowboy Stole Her Heart, and Here Comes the Groom, respectively. If you haven’t read them, do). But it takes great subtlety to convince a reader how two people who’ve been friends for years suddenly develop the hots for each other. Kilby doesn’t quite accomplish this: falls back on the gorgeous hero’s obliviousness and heroine’s lack of, and this is a most unlikeable character trait, confidence in her appearance. Despite this, there’s nicely humorous touches in the novel and some clever dialogue. But it’s pat and Miss Bates’ reading mood was less than tolerant after being blown away by Lin’s novel.
Mad About You has a great little opening scene and Miss B. was heartened by it. Cassy Morris is desultorily playing Solitaire on her computer when best friend, Scott Thornton, calls desperate for her help. A nanotechnology engineer, his latest invention, the Dreamcatcher, has been the victim of a pirating attempt thanks to a rat of a company manager. Scott fired him and is now in a bind. He needs CA Cassy’s financial skills to clinch funding for his dream project; she’s the only one he can trust. Secretly harboring love and lust for Scott, with his genius IQ and mountain-biking muscles, his blue eyes, humour, and caring ways, though Cassy knows she’s skirting heartache, she can’t refuse her bosom buddy his heart and mind’s desire.
Cassy arrives in Seattle to find Scott distraught at the latest development: he’s been named sexiest upcoming millionaire or something. A pretend engagement ensues, though no female, in the course of all their schmoozing, ever solicits Scott. Cassy settles into Scott’s monied lifestyle, though Miss B. wondered why he’d need backing if he’s doing so well. The geek-ness of the Dreamcatcher, however, is so revolutionary that his company needs bigger guns along. But isn’t he a big gun? The ludicrousness of the invention doesn’t help: the Dreamcatcher can record your dreams, like TiVO for the unconscious. Frankly, Miss Bates thought it was all a bit silly, but the leads were amusing enough. Besides, while Scott isn’t a “big gun,” he appears to possess one bedroom-wise. The narrative is brushed aside for sexy times between Cassy and Scott. Even here, where the narrative was clipping along nicely on humour and a joint goal, quite abruptly Cassy and Scott can’t keep their hands off of each other.
To follow, Mad About You suffers from the eternal internal rumination syndrome. Scott loves Cassy, but isn’t ready to own up; all he knows is he must keep her with him. Thankfully, this realization does not result in ass-holey behaviour. Cassy on the other hand … she too loves Scott and promptly decides on acting on what’s best for him. (She thinks about this a lot.) Because he’s a geek. And can’t handle REAL LIFE all that well. [SPOILER AHEAD] She determines and machinates a meeting between Scott and the father who’d abandoned him as a child to an aunt and uncle. Scott’s hurt over this, which he’s shared with Cassy over the years, adds the requisite wounded-ness to our hero. As for Cassy, deception, of course, means love. [END SPOILER]
Needless to say, Cassy and Scott work things out. All is neatly tied up with a ribbon, but Miss Bates knows she won’t remember a word of this romance novel in 24 hours. It’s unfortunate that Mad About You is disappointing because Kilby is an adept and humorous writer, but herein at least, Miss Bates didn’t find anything more than “tolerable comfort,” Mansfield Park.
Joan Kilby’s Mad About You has been e-available since March 10, thanks to Entangled Publishing, at the usual vendors.
Miss Bates is grateful to Entangled Publishing for an e-ARC, via Netgalley, in exchange for this honest review.
Are you a fan of the friends-to-lovers narrative? If so, would you recommend any that Miss Bates hasn’t already read?