Writing Wrongs

January 26, 2006

I love the cover snark over at SBTB, but one this week has become a complete obsession for me (and if you look at the comments, for several others as well, in fact, SB Sarah bought it and will offer up a review).

Scroll down until you find: Who’s The Daddy. Yes, I know. Just do it. Here’s the accompanying cover blurb:

When Caroline Adkins woke in a hospital bed with amnesia, she received startling news—she was pregnant! She couldn't remember one single night of passion…yet three different men were claiming paternity!

Sexy stranger Max Daniels was the only man not previously acquainted with her powerful family. But one look into his eyes and Caroline started to fall for him, even though he was the least likely daddy-hopeful. Meantime, her family was arranging her marriage to a man with more proof…

Caroline was headed toward the alter with the seemingly right daddy—but the wrong man. Could she and Max prove his paternity—in time to stop her wedding?

Whoa. Now there’s a premise. Can’t remember a single night of passion? Damn that amnesia anyway. You must understand, this is a Harlequin Romance, therefore it’s a good bet that 1) the heroine has only slept with the hero and 2) only the hero. So how on earth does this premise work?

It’s clear who Max, our hero, is, no? He’s the one in denim. The other two men on the cover are wearing shades of pink and purple suit coats and ties. No, really. Go look. So what started as idle curiosity has bloomed into full-grown obsession. I need, for my own peace of mind, to figure out how this plot might work. Here’s my theory:

Our heroine is engaged to one of the pink-coated men, a match no doubt approved by her rich and powerful family. Hence the “man with more proof.” You didn’t think it was as truly ew-inducing as it sounds, did you? (An aside: why is it heroines with rich and powerful families in romance novels never behave like, I don’t know, Paris Hilton or the Bush twins?) His motive is, of course, pure greed. We’ll make him the bad guy.

Our heroine comes to her senses about Fiancé-Jerk and a fight ensues. She’s beyond upset and because she’s a heroine in a romance novel, does something uncharacteristic, like visit a (gasp) bar and orders (gasp) alcohol. But her last taste of alcohol was a glass of champagne at her cousin Sissy’s wedding two years ago, so our heroine is gone is 60 seconds. Enter our hero. He no doubt “rescues” her from some barfly. Afterwards, hot monkey love ensues (trust me on this).

Our heroine is wistful, but knows she’ll never see our hero again. Still, she’s resolved not to marry Fiancé-Jerk. But, oh no! The engagement party is that night at some fancy hotel. She decides not to make a scene, but when Fiancé-Jerk lures her to a suite he’s booked (because tonight’s the night, don’t ya know), another fight ensues. He probably doesn’t actually hit her, but she pulls away, spins, and crashes into a coffee table on the way down, striking her head.

Fiancé-Jerk is not only a jerk, but a coward. Instead of doing something rational, like calling 911, he spies another friend of the family staggering into the room next door. Here’s our third man (wait, wasn’t that a movie). He’s the down-on-his-luck, ne'er-do-well, black sheep rich boy. We’ll make him redeemable on the off chance of a sequel.

Anyway, Ne'er-do-well passes out, Fiancé-Jerk carries our heroine into the other room, puts her into bed next to Ne'er-do-well, and slips back downstairs, letting the partygoers know our heroine has a headache (I’ll bet) while establishing his alibi. He figures our heroine is too much of a push-over good girl to say anything after she wakes up next to Ne'er-do-well. And if she doesn’t wake up? Well, that’s Ne'er-do-well’s problem.

This is how two men believe they’ve fathered a child. Of course, our hero, being the hero, tracks down our heroine, because even though it was a one-night-stand, she ignited in him a passion like he’s never known. Ne'er-do-well at least had enough sense to call 911. As for Fiancé-Jerk, well, he’s a lying, cowardly bastard, so of course he’ll lie about sleeping with our poor beleaguered heroine. No wonder she looks so dismal on that cover. Or maybe she’s just dismayed that she can’t remember a single night of passion.

Forget The Boys’ Club, I should totally write this. I’ll call it The Groom’s Shotgun Wedding, or maybe, Three Men and a Paternity Suit or maybe . . . Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Matrimony.

Charity Tahmaseb wrote at 1:02 p.m.