Out Of The Blue
by JoAnn Ross, contemporary (2004)
Pocket, $6.99, ISBN 0-7434-6474-5


JoAnn Ross seems to have abandoned all traces of humor or well-done drama of her previous books for some melodramatic calamities and cartoonish villains more appropriate for a soap opera. This book follows Out Of The Mist as part of a trilogy but Out Of The Blue is such a departure from Out Of The Mist that the thing relates the two books is the fact that the two heroines are sisters.

In this book, Lark Stewart is a famous country singer who gets into endless trials and troubles such as the murder of a bandmate (for which she is briefly jailed after being suspected of the deed), a psychotic stalker, a villainous ex-husband, the murderer of her bandmate who may or may not be the stalker or the ex-husband, a plane crash, amnesia, and on and on. She must be the biggest freak magnet in America, judging from how she just can't stop being stalked, hazed, or threatened in every other page. How lucky for her that she has a bodyguard in her old boyfriend Luke McCloud, who comes to her rescue after being warned of her Imminent Endless Danger by Lark's premonition-prone aunt. Luke is a carpenter today, but previously he's - of course - an FBI superhero.

Luke and Lark have a shared history that involved predictable teenaged silliness that resulted in their first Big Conflict and his job bringing about their Second Conflict. It remains to be seen whether third time around will be the charm for these two. But before they can work on their predictable issues, Lark's harem of freaks and psychos keep on coming. The story becomes more laughably over-the-top as it progresses to a point where I'm convinced that I'm reading the first draft of a script to an upcoming episode of Days Of Our Lives.

It is hard for me to come out and say whether this book is good or bad, because I have a soft spot for over-the-top campy stories and Out Of The Blue makes me laugh at times because it's definitely over-the-top. Like soap operas tend to be, often the characters in this story will do something so stupid to bring about an utterly contrived twist in the story that I cannot help but to laugh while shaking my head.

Sure, this book isn't good in the sense that characterization and intelligent romantic suspense are thrown out the window in favor of frantically-paced increasingly ridiculous plot developments. I've read the author's books in the past and while she isn't the most original writer around, her characters are always likeable and she can create a credible romance in her stories. But none of what makes her books in the past enjoyable is present here. On the other hand, I can't help but to be entertained by the over-the-top campiness of this story.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that Out Of The Blue is a lousy JoAnn Ross book but a very entertaining example of absurd storytelling nonetheless.

Rating: 71


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