Mimi Riser’s first book in 25 years, I Do, suffers from a variety of serious problems. Too much plot, too many voices, and a mish-mosh of sub-genres result in this mess of a novel, which features a marriage of convenience, switching places, a half-breed stuck between two worlds, a heroine who runs at every turn, spirit-body stealing, and last but not least, mathematics.
Paid companion Dorcas Jeffries travels to Texas with Flora MacAllister, who has been betrothed to Alan MacAllister, laird of the Texas branch of the Clan MacAllister. When Dorcas realizes Flora loves another, she orchestrates a scheme that has her switching places with her employer, thereby allowing Flora to run off with her own true love. Imagine Dorcas’ shock when she discovers that Alan and his clansmen don’t care that she’s not the intended bride – he needs to marry. And he’s not immune to Dorcas’ charms – ah, who wouldn’t love a feisty woman who tries to escape and requires locking in the tower of the medieval castle the clan built out of adobe? Actually, had the story progressed with this as its main storyline, it could have been a fun read.
Instead, Riser throws in the castle sink. Alan is not just laird of his clan, he’s a half-breed Highlander. When Dorcas meets him for the first time he’s rescuing her from her attempted escape. She thinks she’s free and that this Indian – who happened to catch her on her fall from a tree – is going to help. She doesn’t find out that he’s her intended until he takes her back to the keep. Later she’s the victim of an attempted rape. And then there’s the mystery surrounding the death of Alan’s first wife. Dorcas is most definitely a runaway bride; during her second escape attempt, she sees a blood bath of a raid but manages to save a five-year-old child. Amidst all these goings-on are secondary characters with secret identities and agendas, and a hand-fasting that legally binds Dorcas to Alan without her full understanding.
Are you confused yet? I was! At this point I thought it could only get better. I was wrong. The pacing of the story is all wrong because all the relationship issues are solved at the same time. Dorcas and Alan admit they are falling in love and have great sex while the child who just watched the rape and murder of her mother sleeps in the same room. Now all that’s left is to solve the mystery of the dead wife’s murder, which is where an evil spirit enters the picture – out of nowhere! Indians and a magician are one thing, but the whole evil spirit thing threw me for a loop. I’m happy to say good triumphs over evil and the book ends, but my joy was mostly because the book ended.
The question must be asked: is Riser an awful author? I would venture to say no. She has a vivid imagination and a unique writing style. The problem with I Do is that the author threw everything she knew about romance into the book. Whether she wanted to avoid catagorization or wanted to be different remains unknown, but in the end, what’s most different about the book is how bad it is.