Matt Caldwell: Texas Tycoon
by Diana Palmer, contemporary (2000)
Silhouette Special Edition, $4.50, ISBN 0-373-24297-2


I have a really great time reading Matt Caldwell: Texas Tycoon. It's a very lousy book, I will admit, and normally I wouldn't hesitate to pitch it into the UBS bag. But Matt Caldwell: Texas Tycoon is so bad that I just cannot help but to have a bloody good time. With the aid of a red color pencil, a jug of root bear, and with nice afternoon sun streaming onto my reading chair, I have one of the best time of my life.

Leslie Murry has come to work under Matt Caldwell. In his company, that is. Matt is a rancher who hates all woman - and boy, he really hates them. He sleeps with evil, nasty women that only reinforces his misogyny, all because of his Evil Momma dumped him among friends when he was a child to have a jolly good time on her own. If Matt is anything like he is today when he was a boy, I don't blame Momma Caldwell, really.

Anyway, Leslie is tormented because once, she has been Assaulted and the whole event results in a bullet through her leg and the death of a bystander. The medical practitioner, it seems, refused to give her proper treatment because she was a slut.

Okay. I take my pencil and scratch the copyright date in the inside front page. From 2000 to 1899. That's better.

Matt wants Leslie, but since she doesn't give out, he knows she is one of those slutty play-hard-to-get tramps who is putting on an act to entice him.

Hmm. I scratch out Tycoon from the title on the front cover and pencil in Neanderthal. There onwards, I have a great laugh reading about Leslie's shivery virgin-ninny act and Matts' blustery antics. Matt mocks her and ridicules her, and still she shivers when she imagines being in his virile, hairy embrace. Oh my. After a while this story stops being a love story, and morphs into a sadistic tale of a woman who gets mocked, browbeaten, and even physically assaulted by the hero. But she loves every minute of it, so I am really happy for her.

The whole romance is fun. It goes something like this:

First, she tells herself she will no longer take his smelly stuff. No way! She is Woman and she has her Pride!

"Tramp! Slut! I kiss you!" Matty the Savage Porko would growl.

"Ooh! Aah! I like! No, no, no!" she would go as the Savage El Porko shows her the mighty Caldwell coup de grace. Then, "Why do you stop? Oh, it's my leg! I hate my limpness! I'm a slut, and I'm now being punished for it! Oh! Ugh! Boo hoo! Waaa!"

"Hey! Stop putting that cheap virgin act! You're a tramp! All women are tramps! My momma taught me that! (My shrink did say something about some Oedipus complex crap.) Come back here and *censored* my *censored*!"

"Do I want to? I hate him! I love him! I hate him! I love him! I hate him! I love him!"

"Ohmigod, what's... that's Mrs Giggles, Leslie! She has an AK-47! She's firing on us! Run, Leslie, run - aaaarrrgggghhhh! Old *censored* you've blown away my *censored* *censored*!"

Oops, got carried away there.

It is also hilarious reading about Matt the Neanderthal Cavepig's ecological concerns. The rainforest in the Amazon basin is his great concern. How noble. Then he proudly gazes over the wide acres of Australian grasslands that he has reduced to wastelands of grazing cattle, and thinks proudly, "This is my empire!" Oh boy, is he clueless or what?

Then there's the Evil Other Woman and her overly-red manicures. But somehow Matt thinks Leslie the slutty one, this Evil Woman the angel. Hmm. I draw a pair of thick-rimmed spectacles on this pig I sketched earlier on the cover.

Finally, the grand declaration of love. Matt tears up Leslie's house! Gets drunk! Destroys a bar! Here I am cheering. Go on, Matty you porko baby you! Pugilism is fun.

Of course, it helps that Matt Caldwell: Texas Tycoon is campy. No, it's beyond campy. Doormat heroine, overly stupid and misogynistic pig of a hero, a ridiculous domination tale of a romance, and all the ridiculous plot contrivances I can think up are cooked up in one funny, loony potpourri. By the end of the day I have scribbled phrases like Pig! Moron! Twit! Yeah - she finally lost her virgiNINNY to that pig! and other childish nonsense all over the white space of the pages. The pig on the cover got a pair of horns, fangs, and a long slobbering tongue too. There are also several chapters where I had fun cutting out Matt and replacing it with El Porko.

It's childish and petty of me, of course, but then again, this whole story is delightfully unsophisticated in its juvenile portrayal of oversexed heroes and spineless heroines. For the few hours while I'm reading this, I laughed, giggled, screamed aspersions at the hero in my mind, and conjured up lurid scenarios of dismemberment and disembowelment in my head for both the hero and heroine. (Somehow, the hero's face morphs into my ex-boss' face, but don't tell him that.) It's even better than playing with my Death Row Max toy.

And who would've thought, unleashing all that pettiness and childishness in me could have such a therapeutic effect? I feel so much better and calmer than I've ever felt in quite some time. My regret is that this book is so mutilated by the end of the day that I may just have to hunt used bookstores for another copy should I want an encore. And scary thing is, I think I may just do it.

Rating: 64


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