Friday, September 1, 2017

Retro Review: Diary of a Domestic Goddess
This review for Diary of a Domestic Goddess by Elizabeth Haribson was originally posted at The Romance Reader in 2005.  Back then, I gave it 4 Hearts (B grade) with an MPAA content rating of PG-13


Elizabeth Harbison’s latest for Silhouette Special Edition succeeds where other romances have failed. She sells her story by writing about real people – or at least characters who could easily be real people. In fact, Kit Macy is likely one of the most “real” characters I’ve come across in recent memory. Diary Of A Domestic Goddess ultimately wins because the heroine is a winner.

For the last several years, Kit Macy has been managing editor and columnist at Home Life magazine, an outdated homemaker publication that Donna Reed would have read back in the 1950s. Still, it comes as a shock when the magazine is taken over by the powerful Monahan Group and the staff is given pink slips. Kit needs her job. Not only is she a single mom to four-year-old Johnny, she’s a millimeter away from closing on her dream house. She needs to be gainfully employed, and now she’s desperate. Therefore, she resorts to begging.

Breck Monahan puts Cal Panagos in charge of Home Life hoping he’ll fail miserably. In order to salvage a shred of his once sterling reputation, Cal has to make the reinvention of the magazine work – and the first order of business is unloading a staff full of antiquated ideas. However, Kit Macy won’t go away. In fact, she confronts him and tells him that he cannot turn the magazine around without her. And because he’s a sucker for a beautiful, determined woman, Cal agrees to keep her on for two months. Secretly he knows he can do without her on the job, but dang if her feistiness doesn’t intrigue the heck out of him. Banter, libidos and double entendres are soon flying, with Kit giving tit for tat.

Office romances tend to be a hard sell to the more cynical of readers, but Harbison makes this fantasy work because Kit is very much a real person. At the beginning of the novel she’s trying to juggle her career, getting approved for a mortgage, writing her latest column, and solving Johnny’s bully problems in preschool. All stuff that women deal with every day, and like real women, Kit keeps running up against obstacles that make it all the more hairy. When Cal shows up and fires everyone a little piece of her snaps. She figures this is one instance where she has to stand up to her own bully or she will lose everything.

Cal remains a bit of a mystery for a while, but he soon shapes up into hero material. He’s a handsome, ambitious man with lady-killing charm. He’s also determined to succeed at all costs, which makes him wonder exactly what he was thinking with when he agreed to keep Kit on. He figures it’s because she reminds him of a schoolboy crush, or that it’s because he’s been neglecting his libido, but he soon realizes that in order to succeed he truly needs her.

The focus of the story is always on the birth of the new magazine and the romance. Monahan serves marginally as a villain, although he remains firmly off stage. Johnny is precocious and sweet, but not so annoying cutesy that he’ll give readers a toothache. I also enjoyed the change of pace of The Ex Husband here, as for once he’s not The Bad Guy. Kit actually has a healthy relationship with Rick, and while their marriage failed, one gets the impression that they’re civil not just for Johnny but because they do still genuinely care about each other.

Diary Of A Domestic Goddess is a quick, charming read that succeeds thanks to well-drawn, realistic characters and witty dialogue. Frankly, the state of romance would certainly get a shot in the arm if there were more heroines out there like Kit Macy. She’s the woman you see in the grocery store, at PTA meetings, or at your son’s soccer games. She is Every Woman, and because she is, you really want her to have her happily ever after. Because if it can happen to Kit, it just might happen to that PTA mom you know.


Wendy Remembers: The cover.  Honestly.  The heroine's face is so tight and shiny it's like a combination of Botox and facelift that went horribly wrong.  And what's with hero dude leering at her?  Although nice touch having the kid's school picture on the desk.  Anyway, superficial nonsense aside, since I just read another Harbison romance for the last TBR Challenge, I thought it would be fun to pull this old review out from the depths.    


azteclady said...

So it's not memorable, but then if everything we read were, there would be no room for anything else.

Kidding aside, this sounds pretty good, and it's under three bucks at the zon right now.

Wendy said...

AL: They fun, straight-up romantic comedies. Light and fluffy, something to lose yourself in for a couple of hours. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that :)