by Denise Belinda McDonald, contemporary (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-440-7
When I read the title of this book, The Inn Crowd, the first thing that enters my head is that really trashy TV movie The In Crowd which is about a skanky psychopathic young woman bent on making our heroine's life difficult with plenty of gratuitous nudity and sex scenes thrown in. Fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you look at things, author Denise Belinda McDonald presents a story of a movie star who checks in at the heroine's inn and falls for her, all the while with her not realizing who he really is.
As a Secret Identity story, The Inn Crowd follows a predictable pattern in its storyline right down to the heroine's overreaction when his cover is blown and her subsequent self-appointed martyrdom. This story is too similar in many ways to many Secret Identity stories I've read before involving rock stars and actors falling for some ordinary Jane who doesn't recognize them because they are too good for trashy hobbies like watching TV and following the entertainment news in the newspaper.
Heroine Lorenna Buttercup Beauchamp runs the Wild Rose Bed and Breakfast. It's not the most famous establishment around, which is why Jamie Crawford decides to check in there for some R&R after wrapping up a movie that he hopes will propel him from being a B-list action movie actor to an A-list action superstar. Lorenna is busy getting the inn ready for her mother's upcoming fifth trip down the aisle so the handsome "vet" that just checked in is a distraction that she probably doesn't need.
This story is populated by familiar characters: the heroine with issues, the nosy and overbearing mother who unintentionally inflicted the heroine with a deep-seated mistrust of marriage with her constant re-marriages, the protective father figure fellow, et cetera. Only in this case Ms McDonald goes to a rather implausible length to create tension in this story.
Lorenna, for example, is so hurt by her actor father apparently decamping from her life when she was young that she refuses to watch television ever since. Isn't that like refusing to eat in restaurants ever again because a waiter poured hot coffee on your lap when you were ten? Lorenna's issues give her an excuse not to recognize Jamie, I suppose, but I can't get over the fact that this woman chooses not to watch TV because her father walked out from her life years ago. That's extreme in my opinion. Lorenna should see a shrink or something. But more importantly, her issues with actors in general - which make her come off pretty demented given how she's overgeneralizing all actors as liars and more - cause her to wail and sob like a most annoying kind of drama queen when she realizes what Jamie's occupation really is.
Lorenna comes off really foolish for overlooking the way Jamie has treated her all this while because this demented woman believes that all actors are liars and therefore Jamie only reinforces her low opinion of these folks, boo-hoo-hoo. And when she pulls herself together, she decides to push Jamie away because she loves him. Of course. The rest of this story is familiar but inoffensive but the heroine is really begging for someone to sit her down and tell her to grow up and stop behaving like a big baby. Unfortunately, everyone here seems to go out of their way to humor her so in the end, The Inn Crowd isn't that "in" at all. Perhaps Lorenna should have watched television more often.
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