Whitehorse
by Katherine Sutcliffe, contemporary (1999)
Jove, $6.99, ISBN 0-515-12678-0


For a bag of walking, talking stereotypes living out a plot that is nothing more than a paper mache of cliches, Whitehorse is surprisingly entertaining. But it is so familiar, the plot the same old White daughter of Bad Senator falling for Indian Bad Boy who has a grudge with her father yarn - I've lost track of how many times I've read this story in all its incarnations - that it never rises above being just an entertaining daytime soap opera.

Apache Johnny Whitehorse (get it, horse?) once had an affair with rich, pristine, pure, ice princess heroine (they always are rich daughters of politicians) Leah Starr. Her nasty bigoted Daddy, whose hobby includes cheatin' them dirty Apaches' money from funds (he always is), tells Leah he will sack Johnny's father if she goes out with him some more (bad daddies always give that threat). And like they always do, Leah caves in and tells Johnny she ain't want him no more. And predictably, Johnny creates a fuss and convinces her that he is bonin' her because he wants to get back at her daddy.

Today, Leah is a vet with a special child. She has had a horrible first marriage to a man who can't take the responsibility and left her for a writing career and a much younger girl. Leah now dates a boring "just a friend" Sam, she doesn't receive alimony payments, she's tired, frustrated... cue music here please. The muzak you hear is the world's oldest song played on the world's smallest violin.

Naturally Johnny comes back into her life, this time a Johnny who is soooo-oooo-ooo-oooo-oooo-ooo hot that he creates traffic jams with his jeans billboard and makes waiters and waitresses fall over him. He has also very big issues about his race and intends to flush out Leah's daddy over some Dirty Financial Thingies. He also has a girlfriend Dolores who is evil. I know she's evil because she gives out and munches on our hero's salami, unlike Pure Pristine Leah who is holding out for the missionary position.

Will Leah and Johnny get over their issues? Will Dolores, poor Dolores who gets the short shrift thanks to her Evil Other Woman stature, gets recompensated for the bad script? Do I even care?

Not really. This story is readable, in a bizarre manner, because Johnny, especially, is so over-the-top as the Apache James Dean Rebel caricature. He is also a very mature hero who solves all his troubles by drinking or speeding or getting into brawls. It's okay for him to discard Dolores for Leah, because we all know women who give blow jobs and care for their reporter career can't be good.

Then there's Leah, the only character closest to resembling a human. But she's also the same old tired, frigid, holding-out-for-my-one-and-only-boyfriend-who-gave-me-the-big-BIG-O's (Johnny, of course). Never mind that Johnny has the mental stability of a twelve-year old high on LSD. Orgasm's everythin', baby.

Special mention goes to Shamika, Leah's best friend and therapist for her son, who, like all wise best buddies, insists that Leah should ditch stable, nice Sam for the mentally volatile (and definitely unfatherlike material for Leah's son) Johnny. I wish I have friends who advise me as sagely as Shamika. And also I must commend a board of vets that actually accepts Johnny into their board - despite the man's impunctuality, rudeness, and unstable behavior, they assure Leah that "Johnny's a smart and trustworthy man". I want friends and colleagues like them, I really do.

In this story, except for the ugly bad guys, everyone looks like they have stepped out of a fashion centerfold (even Shamika who can give Naomi Campbell a run for her money) and talks as if they are reading from a script for The Bold And The Beautiful. The last few chapters are pretty exciting, but all in all, Whitehorse is definitely soap opera staple, albeit an enjoyable one.

Rating: 74


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