The Only Heir (Mary H Collins)

2 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is a quick read with a convoluted story. The protagonist, Kimberly, has just graduated from college and is off to New York City to work in the fashion industry. In many ways, this is a coming of age story, as Kimberly navigates the big city and adult issues such as sex (and the results thereof), living alone, major career choices, and dealing with people who may be considered insane. However, the twists and turns of the plot keep the reader busy trying to navigate the implausible sequence of events. You may be interested in this book if you want something quick to read that explores a version of life that does not seem to be quite possible. Perhaps it is meant to be a book that helps us escape from reality, but if so, I’d rather stay in reality.

Greater Detail:
I was very taken in by the first few pages of this story. It seemed to be developing a story that might be interesting to read, and the characters seemed very real to life. It is hard to review this story without a little spoiler, but it is essentially contained in the title – The Only Heir. Kimberly gets pregnant within a few months of moving to New York City and her lover is tragically killed in a freak accident that is hard to believe. This is where the story takes off into the melodrama and the unbelievable. The baby’s grandparents (on the dead father’s side) take an enormous interest in Kimberly and her child, as he is the “only heir.” In order to not give much more away, I’ll just say that the story plunges into a string of bad choices both by the characters and the author.

The story does not quite know what type of story it wants to be. Is it supposed to be a morality (Christian) tale? A family drama? Romance? Crime novel? The writing itself is good – the dialogue sounds natural and the prose gives just enough details to set the scene. However, the main character goes through a series of events, mostly terrifying and beyond belief, but never seems to learn from anything that happens in her life. There is no apparent character growth, which might have made this book more interesting. The immaturity of the protagonist changes from intriguing to incredibly frustrating for the reader. Similarly, the villains in this story seem obvious at first, but at the end of the novel, there is no one for whom to cheer.

Comparisons to Other Authors:
Because the plot of this book is all over the map and jumps from one genre to another, it is hard to make comparisons. At times it seemed to be a poor imitation of a Helen Fielding (author of Bridget Jones’s Diary) or Sophie Kinsella (author of Confessions of a Shopaholic) novel, but then the melodrama pushed that comparison aside and I was more reminded of a bad TV show in which the main characters face certain death (metaphorically) in every episode and yet live to star in another episode. Similarly, the story and writing can be compared to the Twilight Saga in many ways, although that series at least has the fantasy aspect that asks the reader to imagine a different world where strange things do happen. In this saga, no supernatural forces are required to take this story over the top.

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