Few things are better than curling up with a classic tale of romance, something that fits in the pantheon of great books: Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and, of course, Speed Dating from Harlequin's NASCAR collection. Yes, NASCAR. These books really exist. I know because I read one. Here's how it stacks up against Jane Eyre.Literary Classics: Jane Eyre versus NASCAR
BY LIZ LENT
Speed Dating's heroine is an actuary named Kendell Clarke who, on the night she's about to win her company's highest honor, gets dumped by her bad boyfriend and accidentally ends up pretending to be the date of NASCAR superstar Dylan Hargreave. While the plot is oh-so-Moliere, the character is all Scarecrow and Mrs. King. No matter how hard I tried to shake the thought, Kendell's mannerisms reminded me of Kate Jackson's prissy housewife spy. (On a side note, why didn't Bruce Boxleitner's character ever kill her? Why, God why??)
Jane Eyre does not remind me of Kate Jackson at all.
WINNER: Jane Eyre. Let's not even joke about it.
Jane Eyre's Mr. Rochester is tall, dark, mysterious, moody and keeps his ex-wife locked in a tower. He's pretty much a bastard until he goes blind. But he's rich, has a big house and owns lots of land.
Speed Dating's Dylan Hargreave is tall, scarred, jovial and calls women "babe" and "hon." He's pretty much a nice guy and doesn't go blind. He's rich, has a big house and owns lots of land. And he owns a tractor.
WINNER: This is a tough call but I'm going to have to give it to the man with the tractor. Ladies love tractors.
Modes of Transportation
Whereas Charlotte Bronte's characters traversed the countryside on creatures called "horses," Speed Dating is all about "horse(s)power." And here's why that's bad. I quote:
"Low-slung, red and topless. The man was a race car driver -- he was bound to go over the speed limit, and excessive speed accounted for a high percentage of motor-vehicle accidents."
WINNER: For safety reasons alone, Jane Eyre takes this round.
How Long It Took Me to Read
With breaks for napping, eating, brushing the cat, shopping, watching "Towering Inferno," solving a Rubik's Cube, creating a flowchart to illustrate the connections between all the "Lost" characters, crafting a faux Tiffany lamp and going on a two week vacation, reading Speed Dating took me five hours.
It's my own damn fault for savoring the language and sounding out the long words, but Jane Eyre took me an entire weekend.
WINNER: Speed Dating. Damn it! Things aren't looking good for Jane Eyre right now. Maybe it'll make a comeback in the next category....
Cameo Appearances By NASCAR Drivers
Winner: Speed Dating.
If you'll excuse me, I have to go call Harold Bloom and let him know the canon has changed. Speed Dating is usurping Jane Eyre. All you college students better start brushing up on your asbestos suits and sponsor logos. Forgive me, Charlotte Bronte.