Unplanned
by Jeri Drennen, contemporary (2011)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.75, ISBN 978-1-59578-817-7


Poor Galen Hall. Our hero wakes up in a jail in Guishil, Ecuador, accused of murdering some banker and yet unable to recall the moments leading up to his current predicament. He does remember deflowering our 28-year old virginal heroine Dana Rutherford and then fleeing the scene, though. After all, he has plans to marry some rich woman and never having to be poor again, so it's not like he is to be blamed for sticking his pee-pee into some woman without bothering to use protection. That puta is to blamed, using her virginity to... to.. make him feel guilty!

Meanwhile, Dana is a heroine who knows that her reputation - a pristine one, at any rate - is everything to her brother (who is, of course, rich), which is why she sleeps with some man without protection. You can guess what happens next. When she learns that her baby daddy is in jail and there is no way she can ensure that he gets a fair trial, she decides to break him out of jail.

Hey, why are you laughing? You think I'm making this up?

It's not so bad, fortunately. The author is aware of just how much her story resembles a bizarre amalgamation of a Harlequin category romance and an episode of Dallas, so this story may very well be written to be campy. However, it doesn't really try to go over the top after the initial premise, which leads me to wonder whether I'm actually mistaken about the deliberate camp. Yikes, perhaps the author is really serious?

Seriousness doesn't go with this story, alas. With a premise like that and characters straight out of a walking Harlequin etiquette textbook, this one would have been better served as a parody of those category romances written by Iris Johansen and Elizabeth Lowell back in the 1980s. Both main characters are too much like textbook neurotic stereotypes for their romance to be believable even with the author's efforts to load on the unhappy childhood angst onto them, and everything about the story is "come and gawk" material, too silly in the first place to be salvaged by sober storytelling.

Therefore, Unplanned only works halfway. There are signs that the author had her tongue pressed against her cheek when she was working on this story, but the story ended up trying to be tad sensible when it should have just let everything hang out and party with abandon. With a plot and characters like these, it couldn't afford not to.

Rating: 65


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