Prince of Charming

Cupid’s Melody by Karen Fox
(Jove Magical Love, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-515-13491-0
Love stories interspersed with magic and implausible events can be a lot of fun - when the characters have appeal and these occurrences enhance the story. If the characters are one-dimensional and the story plays like a Saturday morning cartoon, it’s a no go. Such is the case with Cupid’s Melody. It was just too hard to suspend disbelief for this fairy tale.

Nic Stone is a faery. That could explain why he’s adopted a tough-guy moniker and bossy attitude. Still, he’s been around for centuries and won’t be dying any time soon. He is handsome (“his smile equaled the power of a full orchestra”) and has unlimited resources magically at his disposal. Some years back, Nic encountered problems because his wife, Anna, was mortal. Anna was the love of his life, so Nic appealed to the evil Faery Queen, Titania, on Anna’s behalf. He asked that his wife be made immortal, and although Titania agreed, she had a few special conditions.

First off, Nic, a talented artist, had to paint Titania’s portrait. Then because the queen wouldn’t be evil without playing some pretty mean tricks, Nic learned that Anna must die and be reborn. Nic had only to figure out the when, where and who, since Anna II would have no recollection of him. Twenty- five years later, he feels sure he’s found his gal, a pop star living in Telluride, Colorado. The beautiful Dianna Fielding is the very image of Anna (get it...Anna…Dianna) but how to go about winning her over?

His original plan-- transport into her dark bedroom and jump her while she’s sleeping - goes awry when he discovers the woman who smells and feels so much like Anna is actually her sister, Stacy. She yells at Nic, nails him with a kick to the solar plexus and throws a lamp at him. He leaves and in the morning Stacy can’t remember clearly the events of the night before.

Plan number two - ring the doorbell and ask for Stacy Fielding - actually works when, as luck would have it, Stacy assumes Nic is the new gardener she’s been expecting. She welcomes him in and sets the story in motion. The situation takes on a soap opera feel as the characters interact. Luckily some of them have supernatural powers that prove to be very handy for quickly resolving implausible plot turns.

Nic is selfish and a little more impulsive than one would want a magical guy to be. While his powers prove to be indispensable where household cleanup and car maintenance are concerned, he can be frighteningly unpredictable. When losing an argument, he transports himself and the other person involved somewhere remote so that he can convince them on his own terms. He also gets rid of people that way, like when the real gardener shows up and promptly gets transported to the Bahamas with no explanation or preparation. Shallow Nic shrugs off Stacy’s eloquent reaction to this, “Wha-? How-? Where-?” and explains that the guy will have the beach, the babes and unlimited funds, so what’s the problem? She accepts this. Stacy’s brain tends to click off when Nic is around.

Another glitch arises because Anna loves another man, Keith, and isn’t interested in Nic. Nic feels more drawn to Stacy, but since Dianna looks like Anna, he can’t decide which one to woo. He goes after both of them every chance he gets. Everyone does a little making out, moans, groans and gets jealous, but nothing really romantic happens.

Meanwhile, Titania and her portrait ‘portal’ are cliché, her pixie henchmen are an annoyance and Stacy is so much nicer than Dianna, it should be a no-brainer, even for Nic. What’s more, any guy who can live several lifetimes yet remain this superficial may be a good candidate for the latest reality TV show, but not for the role of romantic hero.

Cupid’s Melody features characters I couldn’t warm up to, from Nic the bully to the Fielding sisters. While the story was unintentionally comical at times, the characters themselves were humorless. Call me a pessimist, but a woman insightful enough to weigh the pros and cons of eternity with Nic Stone might want to choose being transported to the Bahamas instead. There she could look up Steve the gardener, who is presumably quite adaptable, very rich, and not likely to live forever.

--Deann Carpenter

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