Dating, Dining, and Desperation
About This Book
Daphne Ballinger has learned to accept her deceased, eccentric aunt’s strange request that she marry in order to inherit her estate, along with taking over her aunt’s hometown paper’s advice column.
But knowing and accepting that God’s will be done becomes harder when a new neighbor, a divorced socialite, learns of Daphne’s predicament and takes on the task of finding her the perfect man, even if it includes speed dating. When God does open Daphne’s heart, it is instead to take in a young girl left parentless and in the care of her dying grandmother. It may be a temporary arrangement until the girl’s uncle returns from the Marines, but God uses Daphne to speak His heavenly love and protection into the life of the child — whom Daphne soon discovers has a very handsome and single uncle.
I was really intrigued by the premise of book one, Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel—a woman receives a large inheritance from an eccentric aunt with only string attached: she must marry for love within one year or she’ll lose it all. But I was disappointed when, by the end of that book, she had only just agreed to the bargain. Clearly I didn’t realize then that this was a forthcoming series! So, after feeling gypped by the first book due to my off-base expectations, I felt I owed it to the story to continue and see how it all plays out.
And for the most part, Dating, Dining, and Desperation was exactly what I was looking for—a fast, funny, carefree read full of tons of quirky characters and a heroine in quite the romantic pickle! A delightful, entertaining escape for any sunny afternoon, this is the kind of book to pack in your tote bag for a day at the beach, and to savor while sipping colorful, fruity cocktails and working on your tan. But fair warning: you’ll definitely want to read the first Dear Daphne novel before indulging in this one.
Daphne was no closer to marriage or even a boyfriend at the end of this book than she was at the end of the first. Quite the opposite: instead of narrowing down her field of suitors, the author nearly tripled it! Not to mention all the new secondary characters, especially seven-year-old Mabel.
I felt like this story suffered a bit from a split personality. The first half of the book was a “Daphne Dates” chic-lit kind of romance novel, complete with a new BFF next door to take Daphne shopping, give her makeovers, and help her find scores of suitors. But then Mabel appears, the new BFF and all potential suitors take a back seat, and it suddenly becomes a “Daphne the Fairy Godmother,” orphan-Annie-type crusade. Is she Bridget Jones? Is she Daddy Warbucks? By the end of the book, I honestly didn’t know.
As for the scores of suitors, Daphne had three solids by the end of the first book (Jake, Mick and Ricardo) and even two more possibles (Truman and Andrew)—more than enough for me to accept and invest in as a reader. But instead of getting to know each of these guys better in this book, Collin was added to the mix. And Tony. And Spencer. And Harrison. And the other creeps from speed dating. And then Daniel the Marine. With so many characters to try to keep track of, I ended up feeling I knew the heroine and other characters LESS well than I did after the first book.
And yet, I read this entire book in one three-hour sitting, a sure sign that I’m enjoying what I’m reading. I suppose I just had misguided expectations again, in that I’d hoped for some more depth. I was hoping to scuba dive into this story and these characters—or at least snorkel, even wade into it a bit. What I got instead was a high-speed jet ski ride. Fun, exhilarating, highly enjoyable, but only ever skimming the surface.
Available March 1, 2014 from B&H Publishing