Too Good to Be True
Irish writer Sheila O’Flanagan’s Too Good To Be True serves up mixed results. Although the writing itself seemed rather dull at times, I have to admit that the characters and their many problems eventually pulled me into the story.
Even though Carey Browne is known for her impetuous nature, her friends are stunned when she returns to Ireland after a week long vacation and announces is married. Only when they meet the gorgeous man to whom she is suddenly attached do her friends realize that Carey is actually telling the truth. But, how long will it actually last? After all, Carey does not exactly have a great track record when it comes to the men she dates. Nevertheless, despite her friend’s beliefs, Carey is completely serious about Ben, her love-at-first-sight husband – serious enough to move into his home located on the opposite side of town. Although her family, friends, and coworkers at the airport have their doubts, Carey knows that Ben is her true love.
Ben Russell is not exactly a spur of the moment kind of guy, which is why his friends are completely shocked when they find out that he is suddenly married and, when he thinks about it, Ben is rather surprised himself. But from the moment he met Carey, Ben fell for her so hard that it seemed natural to get married. But now that they are home and there is obvious disapproval from his friends and family, Ben hopes that he did not make the worst mistake of this life.
Ben and Carey know that it will take some time to adjust to their new status and understand why their friends and family are worried. Granted, things are not perfect, but with time they can work everything out. They do not, however, expect to have everything fall apart and as quickly as it does. When they married, they agreed that the past would not matter, but when Ben’s gorgeous ex shows up at their wedding party and she can’t seem to keep her hands off him, Carey becomes livid. Then again, Carey doesn’t have much to complain about when her past comes for a visit and Ben is there to witness it all. Very soon, one misunderstanding leads to another. And, as is the case with many relationships, Carey and Ben say terrible things they don’t really mean. With little invested, and with neither one willing to apologize, their marriage is quickly on the way out.
But Ben and Carey are not the only characters with problems and that is what is so intriguing about the novel – the characters and their problems. In fact, in many ways this book is like a soap opera that sucks you in whether you want to care or not. Even though at times I wanted to slap the characters for overreacting, the problems still rang true to life. Admittedly, there were times that all this got old, but still I still wanted to see how each character resolved his or her dilemma. One of the more interesting aspects of the novel is the way O’Flanagan is able to show how one problem affects a variety of characters in different ways. And, though the book does not end on a low note, it also does not end tied up in a pretty pink bow. Because of the characters and their problems, this book rang much more true to real life than a lot of books I have read.
Unfortunately it takes sometime to get into the story. For the first fifty pages or so when Ben and Carey seem to have an ideal life, it was, well, boring. It isn’t until they start fighting that the book becomes interesting – something I hope doesn’t say more about me than it does the book. But by far the biggest trouble I had is the writing itself. The author’s style is lackluster and this mundane writing drags the story down during its lulls For instance: we are told that the heroine applies lip-gloss, takes a drink, and then reapplies her lip-gloss. Do we really need to be told that she reapplies her lip-gloss? Although I may seem to be picking on nothing, the multitude of everyday actions and wording that wasn’t required for plot or character purposes made the story much longer and more boring than it needed to be.
I have to admit it was a bit difficult to grade this book. Although the characters and their problems are captivating and the setting terrific, there were just too many times that I grew bored, particularly at the beginning and toward the end. Ulltimately, Too Good to Be True ends up as only a slightly better than average read.