Say You Need Me
by Kayla Perrin, contemporary (2002)
Harper, $6.50, ISBN 0-380-81379-3


For Say You Need Me, Kayla Perrin seems to have armed herself with the grocery list of clichés and then makes up stories around the items on her list as she goes along. Very little in this story makes sense, if at all, and the author seems to be pulling out bags of annoying plot devices out of her bum. No, "pulling out" implies that there is order behind the action. Maybe I'll replace "pulling out" with "pfffting out". That's better.

Serena Childs - she just has to be a librarian, really, even if she looks like Halle Berry's prettier sister - is very angry with Cecil Montford. That SOB not only cheated her of her money, he also ran off with her precious, precious (and very expensive) heirloom! And she is this close to thinking that they will live forever in happily ever after! Oh, who now shall she bestow her precious vuh-ji-nee-tee to?

Cecil's twin brother, Darrell, that's who. She sees Darrell one day enjoying steak - no, that's not a Miami Beach euphemism for gay sex, in case you're wondering - in a restaurant, and worse, Darrell buys her wine and flirts - FLIRTS, HOW DARE HE! - with her! Slap! And Darrell is dragged fighting into a jail cell. How convenient that he left his ID in the restaurant at that time and no one lets him go back to retrieve it.

Plot Contrivance, thy mother is Kayla Perrin.

Once Serena realizes her mistake, oh, she is so sorry. And now this is where Darrell goes completely wacko. Please bear with me as I try to figure out his thought processes. You be the judge - misogyny or just plain whacked?

Darrell knows that his twin has a rap sheet, but he is so shocked when he learns that Cecil has been cheating rich bored women of their jewelry (apart from taking toyboy payment from them).

Darrell knows that his brother has cheated Serena, but he is more concerned with whether Serena is sleeping with Cecil, and if she does, whether she is just after Cecil's money. Family loyalty is one thing, but this is ridiculous under the circumstances.

Then he wonders whether Serena is just after him for his money. See, Serena may have seen Cecil's penthouse and all, and she may get ideas about Darrell too... Again, ridiculous. When this becomes one of the major issues between the two of them, like I said, ridiculous.

Oh, and he happily takes Serena's vuh-ji-nee-tee - Serena is saving it all for marriage, or until page 300, whichever comes first (guess) - but he has no intention to stay around.

In the end, I am disgusted with both Darrell and his gnat twin brother. Both are never made accountable for their own sins, and Cecil is rewarded with True Love. Who wants to bet that if Cecil is a woman, Ms Perrin would've had that woman hung upside down from a tree and pilloried to death by a thousand disapproving romance readers by now? Slut females must die, but slut males are like, ohmigosh, so sexy woo-hoo oh-oh-oh I-think-I-have-diarrhea.

As for Serena, she is like a football, completely oblivious as she gets kicked around by Darrell and his gnat twin. There's a subplot about Serena's sister and her boyfriend that is more palatable because... well, the author seems to be much more agreeable when she doesn't try to tackle romantic suspense and instead concentrates what little she can do on more focused romantic drama. When she tries to create a "bad hero", she can really do bad, but Ms Perrin at the same time seems too chicken to make her heroes accountable for the jerk moments they go through. The result? Say You Need Me, which I need as much as I need a hedgehog in my knickers, no thanks.

Oh, and Ms Perrin? It's Viagra, not "viagara".

Rating: 47


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