Loose Screws
by Karen Templeton, contemporary (2002)
Red Dress Ink, $12.95, ISBN 0-373-25019-3


Karen Templeton's Loose Screws isn't as much a Red Dress Stink book as a Red Dress Ink book, but while it makes me chuckle in the first 100 pages, I find things get slightly tedious as the story progresses. I can't help but wonder if this book will be better if it's written in third person. I'm soon overdosed on too much Ginger Petrocelli.

Just like the formula of chick lit novel, aka "How to lose your boyfriend, job, apartment, and pride under 100 pages", Ginger Petrocelli's hubby-to-be is a no-show at the beginning of this book. Then her boss dies - murder? - and her job goes under. She inherits the boss' dog, but loses her apartment subsequently. And pride flees the roost when Liberal Dipstick Momma - an appearance from Missus Dharma's Mommy after Dharma And Greg got cancelled - shows up. There're the old flame, Nick Wouldyouliketosee - or is it Wojowodski? - and a rooster and two girlfriends who can't make up their mind whether they hate or love (in a non-lesbian sense, that is) each other. Don't forget the ever handy handbag plot device known as the Gay Guy with fashion and love advice for our heroine.

The best parts of this book is its first 100 pages, where I find myself laughing with Ginger as she stumbles and hops her way down the Chick-Lit Laundry List of Plot Devices. She's funny, and this book is written in an informal, conversational style that I find appealing. But soon, I get annoyed when the author skips over pivotal scenes only to have Ginger recount them later in her sing-song style that can take a detour to Port Non-Sequitur sometimes. It is also frustrating that other characters like the two best girlfriends never seem to be given enough space to tell their stories. They, unlike Ginger, aren't strictly chick-lit formulaic lead heroine types and I soon wish I can hear their side of the story too.

Loose Screws isn't too bad a book - it is a readable if predictable chick-lit stuff that won't be revolutionizing the genre, but it's fun in a for-the-moment kind of way. But after a while, it becomes evident to me that this story has characters more interesting that Ginger here, and I can't help but to wish she will just ease up on the "jeez" and "you know" and let someone else get a word in. There is also not enough of sexy Nick to sizzle up the pages.

The ingredients are there, but somehow the result seems a little less appetizing than it should have been.

Rating: 77


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