A Jug of wine, a custom-made mushy book, and thou, Mats Sundin
Leah McLaren, Arts Reporter, Toronto
Looking for a truly corny Valentine’s Day gift? Love’s Next Door, a custom-made romance published by Book By You, may prove just the thing to charm someone you love, embarrass someone you hate-or just mirror back your own pathetic fantasy life.
Customers go to the company’s Web site (www.romancebyyou.com) and enter names for heroines, heroes, female confidantes, and female villains. Other cringe-worthy details include personalized body types (slim, voluptuous, heavyset, cuddly), favourite drink (scotch, tequila, screwdriver), nicknames (worth entering, because the default is "Spunky"). Pay a fee of $29.95, plus handling, and you can receive your very own slice of Danielle Steel-style mush.
Michael H Pocock, one of the writers, said that the template was gradually changed from steamy to comic. "Initially the book was full of explicit sex scenes and we pulled them all out and we replaced it with humour," he admitted over the phone from the Book By You headquarters in London, Ont.
The following are a few short excerpts from the Globe’s own personalized romance novel, starring a reporter, Toronto Maple Leaf captain Mats Sundin, and a secondary cast of randomly chosen Canadian media whosits.
Page 11: "What are you going on about, darling?" Wendy Mesley said, coming down the stairs to meet her lover, pulling a soft green sweater over her head, careful not to mess up her exquisitely groomed auburn hair.
Mats Sundin ran his hands through his short blonde hair in frustration knowing Wendy would hit the roof, because she would now know what he had known for a week - that Leah McLaren was back in town.
Page 20: Leah and Barbara Amiel Black had been friends forever yet their personalities were totally opposite. Leah was the comedian, Barbara the serious one, but like Abbott and Costello, they complemented each other. Barbara gave Leah the structure she so desperately needed while Leah showed her friend the lighter side of life. They were always there for each other, through thick and thin, and even though Barbara didn’t get involved in most of the antics, she was often the subtle instigator.
Page 74: John Fraser sat by the food dish, waiting for Leah to notice the dish was empty. The dog made it usual demanding noises, finally catching her attention. "Oh, I’m sorry, am I ignoring you this morning?" she said, as she stood up and pulled the dog food from the cupboards and began filling her pet’s empty dish. John Fraser eagerly rubbed up against Leah as she finished filling the bowl.
Page 117: Mats stood watching as the fading sunlight caught the ends of her blonde hair, turning them a golden hue. The whole time they were together, the feelings that had been hidden for so long, suddenly sprang back to life.
Leah pulled a couple of plates from the cupboard just as Garth Brooks began singing The Dance. Leah stopped and closed her eyes, softly humming the tune.
"Would you like to dance, Ma’am?" he asked in an exaggerated southern drawl.
She turned around and stepped into his warm embrace without hesitation(…)
All too soon the song ended, but neither one moved apart. Leah looked up and
stared into the soft, blue eyes that had captivated her days and nights for
far too long. All thoughts of dinner disappeared as his head moved forward
to kiss her.