Casey
by Lori Foster, contemporary (2002)
Harlequin, $5.99, ISBN 0-373-83568-X


Somewhere around having what seems like a new book out every month, championing the crusade against evil online reviewers, and battling it out for the title of AOL's Sweetheart, Lori Foster seems to have lost the plot altogether. Her last few books have been tedious cut-and-paste jobs involving the same old oversexed dweeb and neurotic heroine with minimal plot that it seems that I cannot remember the last book by this author that I really enjoyed.

Casey is a little bit more meaty than her other two thousand books that she put out or reissued this year, but it's still a shallow, predictable oversexed-dweeb-minimal-plot affair.

Casey Buckhorn first appeared as a teenager in this author's The Buckhorn Brothers quartet (recently reissued in two volumes). Apparently zillions of fans write in, begging to read about this teenaged-boy in action, so much so that Ms Foster just has to write the boy now grown story of Buckaroo Banzai here as fan service. Am I the only one mildly disturbed by this loud clamoring from fans? I mean, this is like men writing in to ask for the Olsen Twins nudie spread in Good Housekeeping or something, isn't it?

Still, Ms Foster knows better than to write about jailbait sex. Mama Mason Dixon and Papa Confed, apparently the backbone of the audience series books are being targetted at, may not like it, after all.

When Casey was a kid, he knew this misunderstood town trash Emma Clark. An Incident happened which caused their lives to intertwined deeper than expected, and our kids exchanged love and devotion forever and ever before they somehow parted ways. Ah, can you hear the Hindi music in the air? Watch out, Bollywood, Lori Foster's hitting your way!

Cut to today. She's back in town. He's always in town. Sparks fly, and now that they are big enough to play, they... er, they don't exactly play right away. Emma has some issues to resolve with her family that are left dangling since That Night eight years ago, and Casey somehow just tags along. But really, there is no good reason for these two not to jump each other right away. The author uses standard miscommunication plot devices, and uses them tediously she does, to prolong the story.

Emma comes back with another (platonic) male friend who then has a thing for Ceily, a sexy waitress who turns out to be not that sexy at all. This one is a bit on the irritating side, as Damon the Male Friend and Secondary Romance Padding Plot Device here has "not once had he ever gotten involved with a country bumpkin... would she romp with him in the hay? Make him biscuits and gravy the morning after?" Damon, lay off those Nicholas Sparks and Robert James Waller crap books, buddy.

But if you can argue that Damon is essentially male in thinking that way, Casey can be amusingly female at times. Buckaroo Banzai here, when stressed out, will actually become "breathless" with pent-up emotions, probably just like how Rose McGowan was when her neck was caught in that garage gate slot while she was dangling with her feet three feet off the ground even as the masker serial killer approached in Scream.

Still, I won't have problems with heroes that come off as "female" at times if the plot has been a little bit meatier. Emma's family problems are nothing new and they are dealt with in a simplistic, formulaic "My Daddy may suck but he is the BEST, die Mommy, dieee!" manner. In the end, there is just no reason for this book to drag so long when a simple soul-cleansing talk will have cleared a few important matters up.

Casey may be a bit better than what this author has regurgitated in the last few months, but it's still a pale shadow of those "Good Times With Lori" days. You know, when she's actually telling a story in her books instead of just rehashing the same characters in the same "what can we do to get them naked and shagging" non-existant plot.

Rating: 67


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