Head Over Heels
by Susan Andersen, contemporary (2002)
Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-380-81917-1


You know, Susan Andersen is amazing. She writes all these really obnoxious and sexist "All women are bitches!" jerks, make them so sexy and hot at the same time, that I... er, yeah, I'm sort of all aflutter over these jerks. It's the "Mommy warned me, but did I listen? Nooo!" thing all over again.

Seriously, this author has male talk down pat. If Ms Andersen ever sit down to write a novella all about, say, a group of jocks chit-chatting down and dirty about sex, women, football, beer, NASCAR, or anything jock-worthy, I may just pay good money to read it.

In Head Over Heels, why yes, hero Cooper Blackstock is all Marine, all jock, all sexist pig, and all that male sexiness and virility just waiting to burst right out of that jockstrap. As if you can't tell from his name. I need to fan myself. He has "One Night, no, One Week Stand" tattooed all over that man's mighty pecs. At the same time, he's a jerk, he puts heroine Veronica Davis through some nasty smelly stuff, and... well, he's that Mr Wrong Momma said I shouldn't even go near, much less pant after.

Veronica Davis is another of this author's "good sister of a morally dubious woman" thing, where she returns to a small town called Fossil (hah!) to take care of murdered sister's kid Lizzy and maybe even see to the fate of the family bar Baker Street Honky Tonk. And of course, she is rather melancholic about life in general.

The suspected murderer is Crystal's husband. Here is where things get a bit complicated. Cooper, who is in charge of the Honky Tonk, is said accused's brother, and Coop here knows that Crystal was one haughty bitch who trapped his poor helpless bro in marriage. You know, just like his faithless slut of a mom, and like all women in general? Hos, all of them! Pork them, but live with 'em? Hos, all of them!

Therefore, the stage is set for Coop and Veronica to duel - that is, if they don't end up in bed soon. Which they do. Of course, the real murderer is still at loose, and let's not forget the usual character assassination of Crystal and the obligatory secondary romance between two less dysfunctional characters.

Hmm, it sounds as if the author has gone back to her pre-Avon days, but not really. The author tones down the suspense for sex. Which I have nothing against, mind you, because sexual tension hot as firecrackers is always good. But at the same time the author doesn't even try to make the characters interesting outside the bedroom. Coop is strictly one-dimensional woman-hating dude, while Veronica is the strong woman who inexplicably thinks that Coop is the forever deal because he's nice to Lizzy. Or something. The loose ends of the relationship deal with tired premises, such as how Veronica has to prove to Coop that she is not like his mother, et cetera. It's rather tiresome.

I half wish the author has just made these two characters expire in a blaze of orgasmic coup de grace and spare me the annoying psychobabble towards the end.

I can on the whole take this author's jerk heroes in the past because she makes these jerks, well, somewhat real - I've encountered men like these in real life, and hey, sometimes Coop even speak the same thing as those men - and Coop is a rather fascinating hero because... well, Momma said I shouldn't be talking to them, that's what. Good grief, I'm regressing into adolescence all over again.

Still, the annoying lack of deep characterization or suspense to give this story some meat do eventually make Head Over Heels a rather tired affair. Look, there's much to said about the goodness of hot sex and indulging in some vicarious "Ma, look, I'm sleeping with a bad boy!" road trip, but there's only so much laughter and sizzling sensuality can do, you know? Eventually I want to grow up and settle down a little too.

Rating: 79


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