Friday, December 09, 2005

WITH THIS RING, I'M CONFUSED by Kristin Billerbeck


WITH THIS RING, I'M CONFUSED by Kristin Billerbeck

From the back cover:
She's got the rock, so when does happily ever after kick in?

At long last, Ashley Stockingdale--patent attorney, fashionista, and homeowner--can finally add "fiancée" to her spirited resume. That means the next four months will be a dizzying and decadent waltz through aisles of Vera Wang, Kenneth Cole, Sheridan sheets, Kate Spade place settings and Oneida flatware. Well...maybe not.

For starters, the HR department has hired Ashley's ex-boyfriend (yet, the one who went off to India with that other woman) as the new director of software. And now her fiancé is starting to sound crazy--something about moving across country, to Philadelphia of all places. Worst of all, right before her eyes, Scarlett-I-need-some-Prozac O'Hara is hijacking her wedding plans!

Life for our heroine is spinning from out of control to downright confusing. But whether she makes it to the end of the aisle or not, she'll never be at a loss for drama!

Camy here:
I made my husband wait for dinner. I made my dog wait to go outside. I couldn't stop reading this book. I thought this third installment in the Ashley Stockingdale series was the funniest one.

Like in all the books, the dialogue is zippy and fun. With the occasional Ashley-commentary, the entertaining narrative flies along at NASCAR speed. Ashley is incredibly strange at times, which makes you love her despite her dream-boat fiancé. I mean, all women want a guy like that.

Actually, Kevin did border on too-perfect. His "Yes, mother" about-face mid-way through the book was a little too sudden for me--it didn't seem quite in character. But his attitude near the end was great and very in character, so it's all good.

Ashley's nemesis-squared--Emily, and later, Kevin's mother--are extremely well-drawn. Mean, nasty pieces of work, but not cardboard or cliché. They became so real that I was itching for a catfight to erupt any second. That's something, when I get so emotionally worked up over fictional characters.

I did get a bit frustrated when Ashley didn't just smack the brat's face, but since I've heard other readers complain that post-modern Ashley isn't "Christian" enough already, it's probably good she restrained herself like the mature young woman I obviously am not.

What I like about Ashley's spirituality is that she's so obviously flawed, and she's trying so hard and failing so badly. I love that because that's me. She isn't particularly successful at doing what's right. She has very good intentions and they all fly out the window as soon as she opens her mouth. She feels guilty later, she receives forgiveness and affirmation from God, and then she does it all over again. For me, that's a familiar pattern.

The point that I got out of the book is that she's really trying. Sometimes, that's all I can do. I relate to Ashley's relationship with God in that way.

Secondary characters are just as colorful and three-dimensional. I especially loved Ashley's conversations with Purvi and Kay. Sarcastic and fun and teasing.

I personally think this book cannot stand alone. I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much or gotten as many of the jokes without reading the previous books. Since WHAT A GIRL WANTS and SHE'S OUT OF CONTROL are both good reads, I don't see this as a problem.

Ashley is an older heroine--early thirties--so a high-school aged girl might not get some of the humor or appreciate some of Ashley's pain. Any urban, trendy woman (married or single) will definitely feel for Ashley, her environment, and her hang-ups.

Nice ending to this series, although I wouldn't mind a fourth book, as long as it doesn't harp too much on babies. I could totally relate to Ashley's non-understanding of Brea's changed lifestyle once she had kids.

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