Shades Of Honor
by Wendy Lindstrom, historical (2002)
St Martin's Press, $6.50, ISBN 0-312-98283-6


Nothing like reading all the rave reviews about a book, waiting for the book to show up until four months later, fed up of waiting, I plonk down an extra $11.00 for shipping and handling and voila! The theme song of my new sitcom, I Paid $20 For A Book That Doesn't Seem To Shake My World Like They Say It Would.

I can see why this book gets good reviews. It is very cleanly written, technically polished, and all. I can also see why it wins the Golden Heart Award. Shades Of Honor thrives on clichés. It has everybody's favorite - the Wooden Spoon Heroine and the Dead Bitch Wife. An ex-Union soldier who gets the PSTD ticks-and-shakies whenever we want some "Ooh! Angst!" moments. A magic daughter-heroine bonding thing. Horses, don't forget horses that run wild and free! And of course, Doing It All For Daddy, ah, we must not forget that one.

Wendy Lindstrom? Future superstar. She has the formula down pat already.

Our hero Radford Grayson comes home to his small town of Fredonia with his silent, shy "I bought her from Cheap*Mart" daughter Rebecca. Poor Radford! His slut wife "refused to sacrifice" her ballerina and popular act career to be a good mother. Of course, why he can't sacrifice his career to be a good father is beyond the scope of this romance novel. Then her nanny abused good Rebecca, and Rebecca is so shy, so tormented, so liable to wail "Don't let me, day-dee!" at the drop of the coin. She's so becoming a romance heroine, I tell you. She has the Electra complex down pat.

Of course, sexy town sluts are all, well, sluts. Let Radford return home to find real love with a real woman, the low-maintenance kind who will be happy to wear rags and pop out brats year after year because she lives only to make Daddy and hubby happy. Meet Tomboy Horse Whisperer MegaNanny Super Heroine Evelyn Tucker. I think the politically correct word to use to describe Evelyn is "honorable", but I'll stick with "cliché".

They see each other and wham! She is dreaming of him naked and he her. How did that come about? But she is obligated to marry his brother Kyle to make Daddy happy. Along the way, as he compares her to his slut wife and learns how his slut wife come up lacking in all departments (isn't it lovely that we still have to crap on other women to make our heroine come off smelling like roses?), as she bonds with horses and teaches Magic Rebecca to come out of her shell, as Mariah Carey wails, "Now spread your wings and begin to fly, for you have become a butterfly!", I take out my watergun and vow to zap to death any Carebear that threatens to pop out of the pages of this book and zap me with Belly Heartbeams of Love.

Oh, if you like honorable heroes and honorable heroines that perform the postwar shakie dancies and daddy-adora super-nanny-oh blues to bring on the lurve thing, knock yourself out. Buy this book. Live it. Breathe it. Smell the Electra complex and remind your husband or boyfriend that his ex is a slut and is just not worthy. Call up your daddy and tell him that you will love him forever and you are so much cooler than that woman he married, heck, Daddy, kick Momma to the curb and let your daughter make you happy forever! Go buy a horse.

Okay, okay, let's be serious. This book isn't bad at all. But at the same time, it is so familiar and typical, with very little to distinguish itself from other stories of its kind. Factor in the transparent put down of the Other Woman (the Other Man got off nicely though, because he's a man and he gets a sequel, probably), the nauseating and rather too-sweet horse, freedom, and let a pure loyal daughter/wife free your soul thingies, and characters who try so hard to loyal and nice, and this is a book that is not just my cup of tea. I like my stories a little more lively with characters who break the rules a little. I'll leave the Daddy-adoring, hubby-worshipping, all-other-women-ain't-worthy "I'm the best tomboy, mother, and the girl who loves you and have been waiting to grow breasts for you, so Jimmy, Jimmy, why won't you wait for me?" lil' puppies in love thing to readers who like this sort of thing.

Now who wants to join me for Nick Fallin's hypnotizing me with sexy, sexy moral ambiguity on TV?

Rating: 75


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