2008, Contemporary Romance
HQN, $6.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 037377205X
Accidentally Yours by Susan Mallery, despite its bright cover and comedic writing, deals with a very serious issue: Fatal childhood illnesses. Mallery combines the two fairly well, but the book requires the reader to suspend quite a bit of reality for it to be truly enjoyable.
Kerri Sullivan is a single working mother of a young boy who suffers from Gilliarís Disease, a fictional ailment that causes muscle atrophy and severe pain. Most children donít live past the age of six or seven, but Cody has made it to nine and Kerri isnít going to keep relying on the slow progress of her sonís illness. She moves around the country to towns where research is occurring and eventually comes to Songwood, a small town outside of Seattle where, prior to a tragic lab explosion, a doctor had been said to be close to finding a cure. However, he blames himself for the accident and refuses to reopen the lab. He tells Kerri that he would need $15 million to begin research again.
Kerri then decides to approach local billionaire Nate King, whose own son died of Gilliarís disease. When several other attempts to appeal to his charitable side fail, she blackmails him into giving her the money. At first he wants to flat out refuse and press charges against her, but the Seattle Land Use Board is in the middle of making a decision on whether to allow him to build luxury condominiums. Since he doesnít need any bad publicity, he makes a deal with Kerri: Heíll donate the money, and she must be available to him for photo ops, events, and other PR events.
Kerri at first appears eccentric and overly ambitious, but she loves her son. Despite some early incredible behavior (using an alternative persona, ďSuper Mom,Ē she does things like rescue pre-placed cats from trees in order to give her son hope), she has depth and is a more complex character than the reader might at first expect. The same is true of Nate, though not to the same extent.
The ending of the book was my main sticking point. Requiring a suspension of reality isnít that uncommon in a romance, but what the author wants the reader to overlook is just too much for me. I canít go into it as it would spoil the ending, but I cannot feasibly see the last few chapters actually happening in real life. I couldnít take that leap that readers sometimes do with books, and just trust the author. Despite the fact that it was the emotional high point of the book, I was pulled straight out, thinking, ďNo way would that happen.Ē It was disappointing, because during this point in the climax the reader should be completely immersed in the struggles of the characters.
Accidentally Yours is an interesting combination of comedy and seriousness. For the most part, Mallery blends the two well, but failed to provide a plausible conclusion.
-- Jane Granville
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