by Shirlee Busbee, contemporary (2003)
Warner, $6.99, ISBN 0-446-61190-5
This very lazily-plotted "blame the women" story does not sit well with me. In fact, there are times when I feel that sitting bare-assed on a red hot barbecue grill will be a more enjoyable experience than reading this utterly insipid story of bickering thirtysomething and fortysomething adults acting like teenagers in their first co-ed summer camp. That is bad enough, but when the whole book sees our heroine Roxanne Ballinger, a thirty-eight year old supermodel (yeah, now that's really believable!), apologizing for being beautiful and for even sleeping with the hero, it gets really worse.
Roxanne comes home to Oak Valley to attend her brother's wedding (see Return To Oak Valley) and decides to buy a house here and stay. The deputy sheriff Jeb Delaney, however, thinks she's up to no good (when she was sixteen, he booked her for possession of marijuana). They bicker, argue, and accuse each other of really bizarre things, culminating in bizarre unsafe hate-sex on her tabletop. Upon which I quote the charming Jeb: "You may be used to this sort of thing, but I'm not." Which is, of course, cue for Roxanne to protest that she may be a supermodel but she is not promiscuous, no siree, believe her, please, Oh Mighty Backward Redneck Man! And then the hypocritical bastard Jeb has the nerve to say that it's the best sex he's ever had. And his parting words to Roxanne? "Thanks for, uh, an interesting morning." I guess idiot smalltown girls don't tell men like this jerk to take their overrated piece of male ego and go munch on it, more the pity.
Compounding the annoying tendency of the story to keep having Roxanne apologizing or defending her lifestyle and career choices throughout the story is Jeb's outrageous insistence that he is not to be blamed in any of his past two failed marriages. Apparently those unworthy women want to leave Oak Valley and Jeb doesn't, so these women are to be blamed completely and we women, like Roxanne, should feel sorry for Jeb's feelings of inadequacy instead. I guess Ms Busbee is unaware that these women may have very good excuses to dump men that accuse them of being sluts and of inferior morals just because these women happened to give these men great sex.
Ms Busbee also proceeds to pad the story with the comings and goings of the Ballinger clan (buy, buy, buy!), which frankly I can't care less because the whole family drama hinges on a DNA case that I find rather suspect in its authenticity.
All in all, I seriously doubt this book will appeal to anyone outside the Bible Belt area. The old-school sexual double standards of this story may still find a place in those areas, who knows? Me, I just wish there is a way I can let Ms Busbee know just how embarrassing it is that she is still writing a book today, in 2003, that still espouses sexist double standards towards sexuality. Come on, really, we're in the 21st century now, after all. Shouldn't we all be glad that we have come this far instead of yearning nostalgically for those days when men can fool around but women have to sit at home and wait for the men to take notice of them?
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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