Chick lit: love it or hate it, it must be acknowledged that there are good examples of the maligned genre and not-so-good examples. Chantel Simmons’ debut, 2007’s Stuck in Downward Dog, was the former, with a believable plot, a sympathetic (though often just pathetic) heroine, and a light but enjoyable tone. Her second attempt, unfortunately, falls into the latter category.
The protagonist is 28-year-old image consultant Poppy Ross, whose intellect and maturity level seem to have stalled sometime around her senior prom. Upon discovering that her gorgeous, successful husband, Parker, is having an affair with a co-worker (a Brit named Sienna, no less), Poppy’s first reaction is to kill him, followed by the realization that “I couldn’t kill Parker. I’d have to go to jail and I’d look absolutely horrible in the regulation orange jumpsuit.” Cringe.
Aside from its horrifically superficial, insipid, and not particularly likeable heroine, the book also suffers from a completely unbelievable plot. At the precise moment Poppy is learning of her husband’s infidelity, he is struck by lightning, resulting in amnesia that wipes out all memory of the affair. In an attempt to prevent him from remembering the tryst, and to save her otherwise “perfect” marriage from ruin, Poppy decides to remake herself in Sienna’s image.
This is not the first time Poppy has attempted such a transformation. When she met Parker, she was a salt-of-the-earth waitress, but became a prototypical upper-crust girlie-girl in order to fit in with her Bay Street husband and his friends. After his accident, Parker quits his job, starts scrapbooking, and declares that he wants to be a father. Poppy, who was as adamantly opposed to having kids as her husband (prior to his near-death experience, at least), again changes her mind to suit him. The message would seem to be that as long as a girl gives her man exactly what he wants, he will never stray.
Simmons was praised for making Stuck in Downward Dog more about getting a life than getting a guy, but she’s taken a huge step backward with Love Struck. With saccharine dialogue, a forgettable cast of characters, and a storyline that is both slow-moving and predictable, it’s safe to say that lightning has not struck twice for this author.