by Susan Johnson, contemporary (2004)
Berkley, $15.00, ISBN 0-425-19600-3
Susan Johnson's Hot Legs is nearly fun until the author introduces the Exes From Hell angle into the story for padding and the story gets shot down faster than a pro-choice lesbian protester walking up to the Heston residence. Yes, this book boasts the same very short chapters filled with shorter sentences just like the author's contemporary romances up to this point. Anyone expecting more will have better luck scoring a jackpot at Vegas.
Still, the sizzling affair between art curator Cassie Hill and private investigator Bobby Serre is plenty of fun to follow. Both characters are one-dimensional cardboard cut-outs in that both have been burned by bad relationships in the past and are not looking for more but baby, the sex is just too good to resist, va-va-voom, et cetera. But at the same time, Bobby's quite a cute fellow. He's trying really hard to understand women but he's probably better off just providing them stud service. Cassie has some fun one-liners. I don't know what these two see in each other beyond the superficial obvious but I don't begrudge two happy people having happy sex for the sake of sex with minimum tedious psychoanalyzing. More power to them, I say.
Meanwhile, Cassie's ex-husband is causing trouble, but Ms Johnson doesn't think that this is enough so she brings in Bobby's ex-wife as well. These Evil Exes are as predictable as they come, with no redeeming qualities apart from Splendidly Caricaturish. Worse, Bobby starts waffling between Cassie and the Evil Ex. I think he needs a few knocks in the head before graduating from that course on understanding females he's trying to ace. On her part, Cassie says that she doesn't care - she's in it for the sex. I'd respect her for that stance if she actually means what she says.
What seems like an R-rated The Thomas Crown Affair story of hot sex and a missing painting soon morphs into a tale of shallow and unlikeable creatures, thanks to Ms Johnson introducing truly tedious and superficial conflicts into her story. I'm really puzzled if she actually expects me to care whether Bobby chooses Shallow New Babe or Shallow Old Babe (Only More Evil) because if that man has to actually think before he chooses, he's not worth even a second of my time unless it's time to conk him in the head hard several times for good measure.
And come to think of it, the sex isn't even that hot to begin with. By the time I finish this book, I have a hard time trying to remember why I find this story mildly enjoyable at first. Susan Johnson should really consider writing a story with a decent conflict for a change. Who knows, she may even like it.
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