I Take This Man by Valerie Frankel
Reasons for reading: I've liked some of her previous books; caught my eye
Description: "Penny Bracket waited two years to marry dream man Bram Shiraz. Then on the morning of the Big Day, while she's trying on her veil, Penny receives the worst two-line letter of her life: "Penny, I can't go through with it. Sorry, Bram."
Penny's hurt and upset. But Esther, Penny's divorced mom, wants Bram's head on a platter. So Mom ambushes the cold-footed coward before he hot-foots it out of town, bonks him on the head with a champagne bottle, and spirits him away to a hidden room in her gargantuan mansion in Short Hares, New Jersey. Esther doesn't want much. All Bram has to do is write personal, heartfelt apologies to each of the two hundred disappointed wedding guests . . . and eat every mouthful of the very expensive gourmet wedding feast that has gone to waste. Then he'll be free to leave.
Penny doesn't want Bram tortured. She just wants answers to "why" . . . and maybe a little revenge. Will she discover her runaway groom is locked away in the attic? Will Bram's widowed father—handsome tough-guy Keith Shiraz—be able to locate his missing son . . . and maybe seduce Esther Bracket in the bargain? Will Bram be able to maintain his athletic figure after consuming two hundred entrees and thousands of baby quiches? Read on!"
First line: "Penny Bracket, twenty-three, looked ghostly in white."
My thoughts: This was an odd book. It had some laughs but it was very over-the-top and odd. The author Q&A at the back said that Frankel had the idea of what would make a mother harm someone for her child, and a jilted bride came to mind. And I liked the basic concept, because I can imagine an enraged mother-of-the-bride wanting to bean the groom with a champagne bottle and I thought the forcing him to eat the food and write the return address labels for the gifts was hilarious. But the Q&A also discusses Frankel's career as a sex columnist and this comes out a bit too much. I'm not squeamish about sex, but the discussion/resolution of the issue that ultimately breaks up Penny and Bram really reads like something straight out of a sex advice book. It seemed like Frankel picked the sex problem and forced it into the book - I found it hard to believe that a groom would jilt his bride over it.
And then there's other weirdness - the fact that Esther happens to have a video-monitored safe room in her house (it's explained, but...eh), their bizarre (though entertaining) Russian "housekeeper" Natasha who up and leaves after 20 years of service, the fact that Keith Shiraz doesn't mind that Esther assaulted and kidnapped his son, and a weird twist that leads to a rather hasty, too-tied-up happy ending.
I also second this observation by a LibraryThing user: "And the numerous typos were very distracting - didn't anyone proofread this book after it was sent through spell-check?" It was quite annoying.
The verdict: If you're in the mood for quirky chick lit, it's a quick read with some laughs, but emphasis on the quirky.