by Cherry Adair, contemporary (2002)
Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-8041-2001-3
Memo to romantic suspense authors: the term "romantic suspense" is not an euphemism for "let's see how many ways she can put those boobs out while a bad guy lurk in the shadows". See the term suspense? That means the story must play mind games with me. The only mind game I play here is 1,001 Ways To Castrate Michael Wright. Somewhere in hell, I'd like to imagine, Lucifer has a special reception involving snapping living all-fangs dildos for our Mikey here.
But kudos to Ms Adair, at least for writing a love story for all those girls who could be easily tricked into giving head to the entire football team in high school without these girls even aware of what's going on. Maybe you know a few of those girls. They usually get passed around from guy to guy, all the while they truly believing that the latest guy will love them and the guy will love them even more if they give out like he wants them to, that sort of thing. Meet Tallulah "Tally" Cruise - or Tally Ho as Mikey calls her at one point in the story (I'm not making that up!). She obviously has self-esteem issues, and she needs therapy. The last thing she needs is to be used as a revenge walking blow-up doll of the hero.
After a while, I don't have the energy to mock Tally Ho anymore. Mikey is doing a good job at making crude misogyny an artform, and I feel dirty reading his thoughts about her. Me contributing to the deep smelly stuff this story is brimming with will make me feel like the lowest of lowlives, and after reading this book, such a feeling may just induce me to slash my wrists and write a "Frog you" note with my blood on a letter to the author.
He is an ex-Navy SEAL, and he wants revenge on Tally's daddy for reasons best left to the masochistic who wants to tackle this book. You S&M lovers you, knock yourself out.
Tally Ho is on her way to Paradise Island to meet her father (who is conveniently away) when the boat she is on blows up. She finds her way onto Mikey's boat, and this is on page 7. It takes only seven pages before this book gets really in too deep in that smelly stuff. See, if the boat I'm on blows up, the last I will feel ten seconds into being rescued is disappointment that Mikey doesn't seem to notice my size A kitties through my wet shirt. The second last thing I will notice is how hot and sexy he is. Uhm... a man may or may not have died in the explosion, the third last thing I will do is to prattle like an idiot my life story to Mikey. Hello? Fear? Shock? Okay, how about surprise, at least? Tally Ho here seems to have come out of a happy trip to the pet store, the way she behaves. (Later, she will tells her aunt of her accident - "Reports of my death were greatly exaggerated. Arnaud and Lu didn't make it. It was quite an adventure. Walk with me and I will tell you all about it." What the freaking huh?)
She doesn't know for what seems like an eternity that he is just using her. They have sex around page 41, and trust me, it's not pretty. He all but takes advantage of a sleeping dingbat like her, and he thinks of her as nothing more than a perverse strike against her father. Let me quote my favorite of the many Mike-isms in this story: "Plenty of time to search the island, play at repairing the Nemesis, and fuck his archnemesis' daughter." Charming. Skewering that bastard from anus to mouth with a burning hot rusty poker to good a fate for that prick.
But it takes two for a screw-up. Someone has to screw, and someone has to let herself be screwed, and in this case, Tally Ho is stoned. She is seriously stoned, I tell you, because nothing seems to faze her. Explosion, guns, kidnappings? Hear her sing to drown her stress out. La, la, la. Watch her bait her kidnapper glibly, all but begging for death. Watch her forgive, no not forgive - to forgive you have to be hurt first, but Tally just doesn't care that for the most part, Mikey is thinking of their sexual encounters in terms of f**king, her tits, her legs splayed open, and how good it is to be f**king his enemy's daughter. She is so upbeat and perky, unaffected by pesky lil' things like human emotions, that I'm sure her veins are pumped up with enough drugs to start a pharmaceutical enterprise.
I don't hate Tally. I actually like her enough to feel so sorry for her. Sure, she's high as a kite, judging by how she behaves throughout this story, but she's not a bad one. Dumb as a sack of bricks, sure, and probably drugged up like the best of them, but for the most part, she means well. She bumbles along, la-la-laing like a cute but dumb lil' girl that I wince as I see how everyone from the man she loves to her father takes advantage of her. In fact, on her own and away from Mikey, she becomes a cute, eccentric, and intrepid gal who would probably maim her attacker while singing along to Julie Andrews in her head. I kinda like that. But with Mikey, she becomes a victim.
If Social Services exist in Romance Novel Land, Cherry Adair will be in jail for pimping out Tally so nasty like that. Sure, Tally's dumb, and she cheerfully admits to having a history of lousy men, but she doesn't deserve to end up with someone like Mikey. She needs someone equally simple and high to keep her happy, someone like, say, Kevin Smith's Jay, for example, not this Mikey who pulls all the strings in this story.
I can't muster the hate. I just want to swoop into this story and drag poor Tally out of this story. It's like watching a blind and deaf woman trapped in the middle of a busy highway.
But I can muster some disdain for the author's inept plotting. When every scene in this story seems to be an excuse for our Mikey to skewer Tally Ho on the revenge spit, In Too Deep feels like a thinly plotted story heavily padded with revenge sex. After so many scenes where I have to endure Mikey's nasty thoughts about the woman he is screwing, very insulting sexist descriptions of every bouncy anatomy on Tally Ho's body, and equally insulting inept plot twists, I can't even muster up a teeny-weeny dose of sarcasm. I just want out. I feel as if I've been at the receiving end of Mikey's nasty, misogynist thoughts myself, and the prolonged assault on my nerves finally leave me numbed. I just need a bath, and maybe a few hard knocks on my head with the rolling pin to forget this thoroughly unpleasant story.
Oh, one more thing. Maybe I should point out that the sex scenes are pretty hot. See, who says I'm not a fair woman?
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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