I’m sure you can think of any number of romances that are based on fairy tales – Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast are very popular candidates for transformation. But Jack and the Beanstalk? I was skeptical when I picked up Jackie and the Giant, but Linda Jones gives the old story a few new twists and crafts an enjoyable tale out of it.
Jackie Beresford is a con artist, tired of thievery and looking to land the big score that will allow her to retire from the life, when she hears about a fabulous Fabergé egg, owned by gentleman farmer Rory Donovan. Her attempt at burglary is thwarted, however, when 6’6″ Rory awakens and discovers what she’s up to. In return for his silence, Jackie must agree to serve as governess to the widower’s son Kevin for a period of several weeks. She’s not happy about it, but what alternative does she have?
Rory can’t understand what attracts him to the tiny thief. Is it the way she infuses his home, Cloudmont, with warmth after so many years? Is it the fake English accent she affects? Is it her enthusiasm in bringing Kevin around, her ability to get the boy finally to behave? As quick as you can say Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, they’re getting married – purely a marriage of convenience, you understand. But almost immediately it becomes something more, and Rory is going to have to deal with the secrets he’s kept to himself for too long, as well as untangling Jackie’s past, before the couple can reach their HEA up in the clouds.
This is a charming story, with many of the elements of the original fairy tale deftly incorporated into the telling of it. The golden egg becomes a jeweled treasure, the golden harp turns into a gold-plated harmonica, and instead of smelling the blood of an Englishman, Rory keeps catching whiffs of Jackie’s lavender perfume. And of course, there are the requisite beans, supplied by Jackie to Kevin, who passes on their “magic” to his father.
The relationship between heroine and hero progresses nicely, from one of friendly suspicion to genuine friendship to love. Each of them has good reason to fight the attraction that’s blooming between them, but there’s none of the long, drawn-out internal struggles that so often become tedious in many another romances. I did think at times that Rory bordered on the too-good-to-be-true, but then I would remind myself that this was supposed to be a fairy tale, and it wasn’t hard to get back into the story.
There’s an awful lot of humor, for example Rory proposing to Jackie in a cupboard in the middle of a dinner party, and Kevin is cute without being smarmy. Dialogue is pretty good, and the writing is clean – hardly a typo or grammatical error to be found, two of my big bugaboos. Overall, I enjoyed reading the book, and now I’m wondering what other unlikely fairy tales Ms. Jones has appropriated and shaped to fit the romance genre. I wouldn’t mind discovering for myself, and something tells me you might like finding out, too.
Publication Date: 1999
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