REVIEW: Fate and Ms. Fortune by Saralee Rosenberg
Dear Mrs. Rosenberg,
I adore a good chick lit book but it’s got to have more than just a series of funny events linked together. It also needs to make me laugh and not cringe at the heroine making a prat of herself, some depth to the characters, enough grounding in reality that I can believe the plot and I prefer a hero who isn’t a mystery up until the end of the book. “Fate and Ms. Fortune” satisfies all my requirements. Robyn Fortune is only looking to polish her stand up act when she agrees to perform at a younger cousin’s Bar Mitzvah. What she doesn’t expect is that her life will be turned even more upside down than it already is or that she’ll be hooked up with the love of her life. But before she gets her HEA, she and her family will discover some truths about themselves, uncover some family secrets, meet up with old friends and find out just how much of a role fate plays in their lives.
Robyn’s got a quintessential Chick Lit job, good enough but she still gets flack from her boss. As a make up artist for an early morning news anchor, she gets up in the wee hours of the morning, is on call for major news events (like when the Pope dies and the station goes into full court press for an entire weekend) and has to grab time and opportunities to hone her comedic talents. Hence the Bar Mitzvah performance. What she doesn’t need is her mother moving in with her after leaving her husband of 40+ years, her boss saddling her with his spoiled stepdaughter who wants to be a make up artist, or strangers trying to set her up with a man who’s just perfect for her.
Robyn’s still getting over her first husband, a gambling addict who left her with a mountain of debts before getting hauled off to prison, and when she discovers that Ken comes with his own set of problems, she has to be bribed to even call him. Their first “date” is a disaster that ends with Ken in the hospital and Robyn dog sitting for him before hauling him to a funeral. She also discovers that she and Ken share a past, of sorts, and that there are a lot of people who are trying and have been trying to get them together for years. Will they be able to overcome the events of their past that still haunt them and their families? Can Ken get over a celebrity ex-girlfriend and realize who his true love is? And is Robyn willing to wait for him to come to his senses?
I like that Robyn isn’t soured on all future relationships because of her ex-husband. He hurt her and left her with a mess but a part of her still loves him even while she hates him (and I know people in real life who are like this). She loves Ken and wants a future with him but is wise enough to realize that she can’t force him to love her and that he has to sort through his feelings himself. And while her family may exasperate her, they’re still family and she’ll always be there for them. The fact that Robyn’s family history is shown to have formed her character is a nice bonus.
I like that we learn more about Ken than a lot of the heroes in Chick Lit books. Ken is one messed up camper. His backstory includes the first use of the WTC events of 9/11 that I remember seeing in a romance book as well as the all to real mix of teenagers and alcohol. Thanks for giving him some things to be truly angsty about and for not overplaying the melodrama. The subtlety works to make the events have even greater impact.
Since it’s no secret who the hero would be and since he was the one with the issues keeping the romance apart, I knew that a lot of my grade would depend on how you brought them together. I do appreciate that Robyn has the strength to let him go and try to get on with her life. Where the book loses some points is how he comes to the realization that he loves Robyn enough to commit to her. It felt too fast. Yes, they’d been interacting for a few weeks but he goes from “we have no romantic future” to “you’re the one for me” overnight.
As to the complex machinations of fate and family in the story, I found them believable mainly due to the fact that their backgrounds are so tightly knit and that there was a real reason for their families to have lost touch with each other. In another setting, this would not have worked as well as it did here. It must be hard to write a humorous book and even more difficult when the main character is a comedienne. Then to balance that with enough drama to make the characters well rounded is a tough act. You’ve done it well and I give this one a B.