His Little Black Book
by Thea Devine, contemporary (2006)
Pocket, $14.00, ISBN 1-4165-2415-0


His Little Black Book is Thea Devine's debut contemporary effort for Pocket. The only problem is, she's pulled a Susan Johnson here when it comes to her switch from historical romance to contemporary romance. His Little Black Book has very little plot. Unfortunately, it has plenty of rampant heroine stupidity going on in a premise that is so insulting that I feel this compulsion to empty an entire can of bug spray over it.

Brooke, Delia, and MJ formed the Mistress Club during their college days. Or, at least, Brooke formed the Club and roped in her two friends during their latest bad-ex bitching session. The Club is a pretty straightforward one: the members will use men instead of the other way around and become the new Melania Trump instead of, well, a typical romance heroine. Yes, I know, this is a mercenary thing to do and such attitude of the lead female characters is a no-no in the romance genre. However, I will like this book better if it continues to go down that "I Wanna Be Melania!" route because... well, that's the only way to go, I feel, if Ms Devine wants her heroines to retain some dignity by the end of the story. You know me, I don't mind greedy ho's obsessed with bling-bling as long as these ho's are witty, amusing, and smart.

However, Ms Devine wants to do some kind of morality tale about love, which only results in all three women coming off as members of the Braindeads Anonymous Club instead. Part of the problem here is that true to this author's heroines in the past, the three morons here over-analyze everything. Over-analysis is fine when it comes to murder mysteries and what-not, but here the three morons are over-analyzing in fragmented sentences in italics oh-so-typical of this author over issues such as whether you are "using" a man if you go down on him ten seconds after seeing him and then not giving him your phone number after the deed is done. Maybe I'm just too old and therefore are not in sync with the modern trendy gals in big cities nowadays, but goodness, I can't imagine how anyone can attempt to think so much over a trivial sexual encounter. I mean, sheesh, so she went down on him. If she likes doing that kind of thing, more power to her. What's the big deal?

But the three morons here go on and on about how they shouldn't have quickies that the sex scenes in this book become joyless to read because I dread being bombarded by the incessant fragmented-sentences-in-italics party that Ms Devine never fails to throw to celebrate her heroines' latest shag in this story.

I am not judging the morals of the lead female characters, let me make this clear. In fact, I think some of the Club's rules make sense, especially that part about not getting overinvested in losers who don't give you back something in a relationship. But many of the Club's other rules which mostly deal with getting sugar daddies are fine with me too. If these women are beautiful, I'd be happy to cheer them on if they want to use what they are given to bring in the bling-bling. But the three morons here aren't fun and unapologetic bling-bling hunters. They are morons who are clearly unhappy about following the rules of the Club but yet unable to just say, "Toss the Rules! They aren't making me happy so I'll just find some other Rules that will make me happy!" So what I get in this story are three miserable women who don't know what they want or what they should do with their lives.

As for the romance, I don't know if I can call this a romance because... well, I'll let you find out for yourself if you want to read this book but I have a hunch that you will be screaming "Oh my god, these women are such braindeads!" as the three morons get involved in a mystery so badly plotted that the main characters spend the last few pages narrating the mystery to each other just so that Ms Devine can clear things up for the reader. This isn't so bad if those characters aren't telling each other things that they should already know in long exposition speeches too rehearsed to be passed off as something one would say spontaneously in a conversation.

His Little Black Book is not as bad as the author's previous book Sensation if only because the dreadful use of fragmented italicized sentences here is not as insanely frequent as it was in the previous book. However, the lead female characters in this story are so monumentally stupid that they often display zero common sense. This is a story that relies on these characters being so inhumanly dumb. Is Ms Devine trying to get inside my own personal little black book with efforts such as this?

Rating: 45


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