How To Be A "Wicked" Woman
by MaryJanice Davidson, Jamie Denton, and Susanna Carr; contemporary (2004)
Brava, $14.00, ISBN 0-7582-0707-7


Maybe we should present the Queen of Hysterically Good Novellas crown to MaryJanice Davidson. Her oh-so-fun The Wicked Witch Of The West Side the best and only reason to read this Brava anthology. Oh, I really love this story of a ball-breaking, bitchy, nasty editor falling the biggest bestselling romance author of her publishing house Anderson & Son when she realizes that Hope Desiree is actually Steve McCord. Jeannie Desjardin has even her boss quaking in terror at her approach and when Hope's editor quits the business (or is rotting in Jeannie's basement, who knows?), Steve and Jeannie finally meet and the easy-going Steve finds himself utterly infatuated with his tough nemesis. He starts dropping by the office just to see her and from thereon, it's a truly fabulous and funny story revolving around a delightful premise I don't come across any day. Steve is a dream and Jeannie, while I'm sure can put off some readers, is his perfect foil. I stop to reread this novella once more before I move on to the next one because I'm sure that the others can't come close to compare to this one.

It's not that I don't want to give Jamie Denton a chance but Instruction In Seduction reads like a bad Blaze novel cobbled from every silly and derivative plot devices from that line. The only good thing I can say about it is that it ends quickly. Three men told Eden Matthews that she is a frigid dud in bed and ohmigod, this must be true because her mother was a dud when it came to keeping men so OH! MY! GOD! PANIC STATION! I can sleep easy now knowing that Eden is a policewoman. She decides that books and magazines are no help so she must get instead hands-on education from her partner, Jackson Hunt (who has always been infatuated with her, et cetera). So this is what police officers do in their spare time! Stupid premise, dumb characters, a waste of time.

Susanna Carr's Wicked Ways can hold hands with Jamie Denton's novella and jump off the Nobody Cares Cliff to their deaths because it is another stupid story revolving around the now ridiculously overused premise of a shy and sexually inexperienced heroine inheriting a lingerie business, only this time the heroine has to go to strip joints and bars to sell her line. What, don't they have catalogues for this kind of thing? When librarian-turned-lingerie-guru Peyton Lovejoy encounters an employee working part-time in a strip bar and she wants to die when he dances for her - eek, she has to tip him by doing that with his G-string thingie? - our heroine hits panic mode and does what she always do: call the library helpline for advice. Mike Ryder is actually attracted to this anonymous voice over the helpline instead of asking her to get psychiatric help but when he realizes that Peyton is her boss and worse, one he suspects of embezzling library funds... okay, hold it. Why on earth will anyone think that a complete braindead like Peyton is capable of embezzling funds when she can't even shove a fifty into a stripper's crotch is beyond me. Then again, with a name like Mike Ryder, he must have received one too many kick in the head from bullies when he was a kid in the playground, so who knows? They both need psychiatric help. And Ms Carr needs to apologize to librarians everywhere, period.

My advice? Go to Borders, order a nice cup of iced coffee, and read MaryJanice Davidson's story. Or Xerox the story from a copy you borrow from the library or from a friend. One good story isn't worth having to endure the two stinkers for. How To Be A "Wicked" Woman, huh? How to learn from MaryJanice Davidson, more like, Ms Denton and Ms Carr. Back to the drawing board for you two, I'm afraid.

Rating: 50


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