Broken Silence
by Maggie Shayne, Eileen Wilks, and Anne Marie Winston; contemporary (2003)
Silhouette, $6.50, ISBN 0-373-21811-7


Let's talk about misleading advertizing first. The back of this book talks about genetoc experiments creating kids with special abilities. I envision mutants, Hugh Jackman with Big Adamantium, hunks in lycra, that sort of thing. What I get in this anthology are crackpot heroines whose stupidity defies description - Eileen Wilks' heroine excepted from this - in stories with plots that redefines the meaning of "I Was Hit Ugly With The Frying Pan Of Stupid" - again, Eileen Wilks' plot excepted. Let's just say that Eileen Wilks' novella isn't original, just decent, but compared to the other two in this anthology, it's a masterpiece.

Maggie Shayne's novella has a moronic title, The Invisible Virgin, but soon I realize that even this moronic title is too good for this novella. Rosie is a drop dead gorgeous babe who hides herself in her garden to spend time aching and trembling over The Pain Of The Flowers. She has some special empathy for plants, so she knows how much roses hurt when they are attacked by blight. Or something. Her grandmother forces her to go to a party in exchange for Rose getting to play with a special flower in the maze - because what are grandmothers for if not for forcing morons to wed and procreate? She goes there, sees our hero Mitch, they kiss, and then Rosie runs away because she's a lobotomized freak who panics at the thought of having natural healthy heterosexual needs. He chases her, sees her dolled up (let down the hair, put on a sexy dress, and voila, she's now a babe, although she will still swear she is ugly), and she likes him. But now it's her turn to moan about (a) he can't possibly recognize her when she reluctantly dolls up now, (b) he can't possibly love hot sexy her when this hot sexy her is not the real her (she is overestimating the discrimination level of men, I tell you), and (c) does Mitch love the real ugly her or this fake sexy her, because, you know, she's not sexy or hot, she just looks sexy and hot and oh! Oh, no, not sex! Ooh, that is good, but we must not do it again - ooh. Ooh.

You know what, I hate everybody in this story, but Rose can just stick her head back in that hole where she crawls out from and suffocate there. Thank you. Let's move on to the next story.

Oh, and I don't know what genetic experiment has anything to do with this story.

Eileen Wilks' A Matter Of Duty is the most readable of the three. Aiden and Noelle are old flames reunited so that he can protect her from some stalker who may or may not be her ex-husband. She has a reputation as a loonybin stalking her ex-husband. These two talk, have fun, have sex, and no, I don't know what genetic experiment has anything to do with this story either. Still, Noelle's reasons and actions before she meets up with Aiden may be on the stupid side, but she displays self-awareness, maturity, and an ability to learn from her mistakes and move on with life. Aiden's "action hero" background is unnecessary and is added into the story like some overkilled gimmick, but he's also a nice hero. Both of them don't indulge in long drawn-out misunderstandings. Most importantly, both of them may be stereotypes but they at least come off halfway sane compared to the contrived sexual neuroses of the other two novellas. Flee, Ms Wilks, flee the Silhouette while you can.

Inviting Trouble is Anne Marie Winston's novella. Kate is an idiot who doesn't like parties, et cetera, but to please her Matchmaking Granny, she wears a sexy dress, lets her hair down, and whoa, she's not ugly after all. But she will insist that she is, and also, because once she almost dated this guy but heard him mocking her, she now knows that all City Boys and their City Morals (the author's own words) are evil and she will never be loved ever again. When David starts to court her, she knows he is a City Boy so no! No! No! No! NOOOOO! Then he is leaving, she decides that she must have sex with him once so that She Can Forever Cherish The Memory, and that's when I throw this book down and jump on it again and again and again while doing my Chop The Stupid Morons kung-fu aerobics to Gladys Knight on the CD player. And no, I don't know what genetic experiment has to do with this novella.

Unless the whole genetic experiment is involved to create heroines this unbelievable imbecilic - is that what we are talking about here? Silhouette is the Mad Scientist Mill and the authors are the Doctors Frankenstein, is that it? Ooh, is this anthology a deliberate Silhouette self-parody? I would have had a better time speculating if reading this anthology doesn't make me want to weep for my wasted time while Gladys Knight sings about the midnight train leaving Georgia. The misleading premise is the final straw that breaks this angry reader's back. What the freaky does genetic experiments have anything to do with any of these stories? Shame on Silhouette, really!

Rating: 16


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