Review: Such Sweet Poison

Such Sweet Poison Such Sweet Poison by Anne Mather
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cute, Simple Romance

(Spoilers, duh)

The Heroine: Catherine is your typical neurotic big-city divorcee who owns a cat and thinks herself overweight and undeserving of male attention because of her piece-of-garbage ex husband who dumped her for a younger, more conventionally attractive woman, and also blamed the failure of their marriage on her supposed infertility (utter failure as a female!) and insistence of having a career of her own. Terrible, nasty woman. Obviously, she totally deserves to be alone and miserable until she’s old, fat, and infirm with no one to care for her and only her cat to eat her half-dead when her neighbors start complaining about the smell coming from her tiny bedsit. Naturally, she won’t allow her well-meaning friend–who has the most awful, obnoxious, punchable husband ever–to set her up on a date with anyone because who would want poor Catherine with a cat and also, who in their right mind would trust a woman to set them up with anyone decent when she clearly has terrible taste in men?!?!?

The Hero: Oh, Morgan Lynch. Give me a second, my heart hurts. He has some major stalkerrific tendencies and pulls some asshole maneuvering in the middle of the book, but bless his heart, he thought he had a good reason. He was a bit misguided, I’m afraid. I actually liked Morgan.

Morgan comes off as kind of a dick at first (don’t they all), but that’s because he’s a shell-shocked Vietnam vet. Stationed in London where our little story takes place, he works for the US Embassy and comes from a wealthy family. He’s good-looking, educated, slick, tough, and the first time he sees Catherine, he falls in looooove. But he’s got a tragic back story and a dark secret. He and Catherine can never be together! Oh noes!

The Plot: Catherine is convinced she’s going to die alone with her cat because she’s fat and gross or something, the silly bitch. She has a well-meaning, but over-bearing mother who is constantly harping at her to go out more and get back to dating, while her closest friend is a secretary at the securities firm where she works and only seems to invite her to dinner parties when she needs to complete a set. The friend’s husband is awful and has hit on Catherine before, but Catherine has never told her friend–so when the friend needs a fourth to complete a dinner party because an old Army buddy of her husband is coming into town, she invites Catherine. Catherine doesn’t want to go, but the friend insists it’s not a date–she just really needs a filler for her dinner party, so it wouldn’t be awkward. Fine, Catherine says, she’ll go. Naturally, her mother asks a million questions after she finds out about the dinner party and after hanging up the phone, Catherine’s like, why is this my life?

She goes to the dinner party and this Morgan Lynch guy is GORGEOUS. SOOOOO GOOD-LOOKING. Naturally, the friend’s husband goes into his default asshole mode and starts bullying Catherine as though to show off or something and Morgan shuts that garbage down. He doesn’t really talk to anyone and is kind of awkward and the whole dinner is tense and weird and Catherine is sorry she attended, so she tries to bug out early, but her friend is like, Oh help, take Morgan with you. Catherine is like, are you crazy because no, bye, I’m leaving. Morgan is like, whatever bitches, I’m walking in the rain because I’m cool like that. So Catherine is about to drive off in her Peugeot only it really is raining because London LOL and she tells that crazy Yank bastard in his nice smart suit to get into her Peugeot before he drowns in the rain.

Because Morgan has only moved to London, he doesn’t really know where he’s going, so he can’t direct Cat where to drive (and this is before mobile phones). His clothes are soaked wet from the rain and Cat tells him she can’t have him sitting drenched in her car, so right there and then, he starts taking off his clothes like a crazy person. Flustered in a very British way, Cat takes this guy to her flat (I swear, he’s only getting away with this because he’s very good-looking), so she can dry his clothes for him and she could give him something warm to drink. Morgan takes her up on the offer.

I’ve seen horror movies with less sketchier premise.

Morgan and Cat talk a little bit, but not much because Morgan is doing his mysterious stranger bit since he doesn’t want to get too close to Cat even though he’s super attracted to her. Meanwhile, Cat thinks Morgan is just chatting her up for shits and giggles, since she can’t actually believe that Morgan sees anything in her, because her self-esteem is in the toilet. While she is taking care of his wet clothes, Morgan falls asleep on her couch, so Cat goes to her own bed herself, secure in the knowledge that Morgan can’t possibly be a serial killer because her cat likes him. She is awoken in the middle of the night by Morgan making strange noises, so she creeps downstairs and discovers he is having very bad dreams. Instead of freaked out, Cat finds herself intrigued.

Cat doesn’t expect to see Morgan again after the strange, awkward night, but he shows up at her place later to say hello. Then he drops by at her work with a picnic basket. Then he sends her a huge bouquet of flowers. Meanwhile, Cat’s ex is still hanging around to remind her that she’s garbage and no man would ever want her, so Cat is  not entirely convinced that Morgan is serious about her, especially since he’s so handsome, rich, and being so… mysterious. Why won’t he talk about himself? Why won’t he answer anything personal himself? What kind of game is he playing?

So finally, Cat is like… you know what, I’m just going to take care of business my own damn self. She goes to Morgan’s house to confront him, to find out once and for all what he wants from her, and they get it all out in the open, almost get it on, then Morgan’s like, wait, I have a big Dark Secret. Here it is! Cat’s like, oh, that’s okay, I’m half a woman because I can't have kids! We can make this work. Morgan’s like, no, we can’t! Cat’s like, we can! Morgan’s like, we can’t. Go away, Cat! Cat’s like, noooo!! Then Morgan disappears.

The Verdict: Sigh. This was a nice, pleasant read. There wasn’t really much angst. Compared to a lot of the old vintage Mills and Boons and HP stuff that I enjoy reading, this one is actually a happy one. Morgan and Catherine are fairly simple people, who just needed a little bit more time to get to know each other and talk to each other. They get some time apart and I think it’s a good thing because it gives them both the necessary perspective. My favorite scene is the one where Morgan comes back like the avenging hero right at the nick of time, just like a hero is supposed to, to give Cat’s dickhead ex-husband his comeuppance. It would have been a tad bit more satisfying if it was Cat who gave him the asskicking, but I’m a stickler like that. I really wanted Cat to kick her ex-husband's ass and literally unman him for half the crap he puts her through...

Classic Anne Mather. Strong heroine who needed a self-esteem boost. Swoon-worthy hero who needed a boost of his own. 85/100.

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