by Louré Bussey, contemporary (2001)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-129-4
Oh dear, Ms Bussey really should take time to work on her plots and characters. Nothing in Dangerous Passions seem remotely real. Which is fine if this author is writing a bad comic strip, but we're talking about a contemporary romance here. When my reaction at the Prologue, where the author tries to channel the teen angst movie Heathers but ends up channeling Brandi Gets Her Neurotism Young instead, has me going "Bwahahahaha!" instead of "Gosh!", something is already very wrong.
The prologue is about how a young Marita finds love and loses it in a really silly gunfight affair. It's an over-the-top ridiculous affair that makes me giggling because it's so ineptly written. Marita comes off a total idiot in the prologue, and the author also carefully hits me in the head with a theme that will recur frequently in this story: your girlfriends are all ho's looking to get your man, girl, so watch your back and trust no one female. It's sad, but hey, I guess it makes plotting easier.
More than ten years later (I think it is eighteen years later - but I'm not rereading the book to check), Marita is still unable to get over her first Traumatic Experience In Love. Maybe they don't have therapists over there. One day, typically burned out and stressed like romance heroines with no life and no hobbies always do, she decides to retreat to an island lodge. Yo-ho-ho, guess who's there? Her male friend Shemar.
Shemar too has Been Betrayed By Bitches Before, and naturally he treats Marita hot and cold. Meanwhile, that 18-year dead first love comes back as a ghost/something to tell Marita that she must not blame Shemar's behavior: it's all Bitches' fault.
That's the entire premise of this story. Every flaw in these characters are not their fault. It's those Bitches' fault: the ex, the sick twisted female cousin, the ho, et cetera. Heaven forbid we blame Shemar's stupid inexplicable inability to open up to Marita in his obstinacy. When he stupidly rendezvouses with an Evil Ho in some sauna-like place and our heroine conveniently stumbles upon them when they walk out, it's the Ho's fault!
Fine. Blame all women for our men's flaws. It's easier to live in denial. But the author has no excuse for the inept reliance on Other Ho's to further the plot (little misunderstandings in a story is not the same as plot development) or the obvious, stilted attempts at creating conflict (see the Rendezvous Scandal above). The characters remain at cardboard-thin stage, the heroine is unrealistically neurotic, and the plot is way out there in blaming all those other women for everything wrong in this world. This story definitely has issues with anyone with XX chromosomes.
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