Bedazzled has an original idea and one cute scene. And that’s it. The rest of the book, from start to finish, is poorly written. Awkward phrasing, tissue-thin characterization, and an unbelievable plot make this a difficult read.
For reasons she doesn’t understand, Ashley Douglas feels compelled to buy an unusual bowl in an antique shop. She can’t really afford it, and when she runs into her brother Zach and his best friend Jordan Bennett (whom she has had a crush on for years), she is ashamed of her purchase. But when she gets home, she sees what a bargain the bowl is – it’s a magic bowl, and it immediately provides her with a hundred dollar bill to replace the money she spent. When she wakes up the next morning, she discovers that the shampoo she left next to the bowl has made her normally limp locks wavy and luxurious. Then she goes to her job at a hotel, and she finds out that Jordan is the new chef at the hotel’s restaurant.
It looks like things are going great for Ashley. She is getting to know her bowl better (his name is Elvis) and Jordan seems to be very attracted to her. But there’s a problem. Ashley is known to everyone as a horrible spender who goes through money like water. Jordan, on the other hand, is so cheap that he won’t buy a two dollar hot dog from a vendor (even though he’s starving) because he can get a whole package of hot dogs for that price at the grocery store. Ashley’s family is well aware of the differences between her and Jordan, and they don’t approve of the match. Zach is especially protective of Ashley, and he is sure a relationship between his best friend and his little sister would destroy his friendship with Jordan.
And that’s it for the conflict, which is about as exciting as the characters (read: not exciting at all). This book has so much wrong with it that it’s hard to know where to start, but it’s biggest problem is probably the awkward writing. The book is full of badly-phrased sentences, poor word choices, and stilted, unnatural dialogue. At least once a page I would find myself mentally rearranging a sentence to make it better, or replacing a word which didn’t quite fit.
Such poor writing might take a reader right out of the story, but in order for that to happen the reader would have to be involved in the story in the first place, which in this book is highly unlikely. The characters never seem like real people, and if they were real people no one would like them. Ashley is the world’s biggest door mat. She never wavers in her love for Jordan, even though he is a complete jerk who insults her constantly. Her biggest surges of affection for him come when he apologizes for his bad behavior, which is often. Her family also treats her poorly. Ashley is only twenty-three, and during the course of the book she goes on only one foolish shopping spree. She holds down a job and supports herself with no help from her family. But to hear them talk you would think she was forty-six, bankrupt, unemployed, and living at home. Her family literally criticizes her spending and reminds her of her past mistakes every time they see her. It’s amazing that she ever goes home.
Jordan is even harder to take. While no one opens a book with Elvis the magical bowl expecting hard-hitting realism, Jordan would be hard to believe in any universe. He is a pretty good chef, but he is still making a name for himself. Nonetheless, he has no trouble paying for a mansion in the Garden District of New Orleans – and he pays for three-quarters of it in his down payment. The house is furnished with priceless antiques. But Jordan is supposedly such a pinch penny that he won’t buy a car! When he breaks down and pays for a cup of coffee for Ashley, she sees it as real progress. Why she would want to marry this cheapskate who insults her all the time is completely unfathomable. As far as I could tell, Jordan’s only attractions were his good looks and his “huge” manhood.
There are many, many other problems, including silly love scenes (one of them reminded me of the “hokey-pokey”) and offensive racial stereotypes. I did kind of like Elvis the talking bowl, although his dialogue sounded as unnatural as everyone else’s. There is one funny scene in which Elvis magically makes dinner and the inept Ashley has to make it look like she’s doing it. Since that was the only scene worth reading in the entire book, I recommend giving this one a pass. Even hard-core paranormal fans are likely to find this book a waste of time and money.