A pharmacy assistant juggles wedding plans, demanding customers and potential insurance fraud.
Smart, well-meaning Andy has a reputation as a bit of a bumbler. The prototypes for his inventions (like detachable heels for women’s shoes) tend not to work very well, and he never finished his pharmacy training, which leaves him working as a mere assistant at an independent pharmacy in Crockett, his childhood hometown 20 miles northeast of San Francisco. Moreover, his boss is the father of his fiancée, and Gregory appears to think little of Andy as husband fodder. When Gregory dies, his blessing for the nuptials not explicitly denied but not exactly given either, Andy has to deal with his own neurotic feelings about the nuptials as well as the pharmacy’s financial disarray. Gregory died with plenty of debt; he let many customers run up sizable tabs; and his habit of mixing legit pills with doctor’s samples risks the ire of Blue Cross. Memoirist Wellen (Barman, 2003) constructs his debut novel with a handful of stock rom-com characters: Paige, the sweet fiancée; her greedy sister Lara, who distrusts Andy; Sid, an old friend of Gregory who dispenses sage wisdom at the appropriate plot points; and Brianna, the heavy from the big corporation who threatens to upend Andy and Paige’s potentially idyllic future in Crockett. Wellen adds a few new twists to a familiar tale; he knows his way around the technical details of pharmaceutical compounding and patent law, adding both elements to the narrative with a light touch. But he’s less surefooted when it comes to giving color to Andy’s character, and the frothy tone and slapstick set pieces all but erase the tension that should arise from the possible derailment of Andy and Paige’s forthcoming nuptials. Though a split is part of the plot, the story is so easygoing it’s hard to worry much about the eventual outcome.
Fluff with some smarts but not much drama.