Blue Moon
by Laura Marie Altom, paranormal (2003)
LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52538-0

Laura Marie Altom's debut, Blue Moon, starts on a wrong note with me and it never comes close to rectifying that faux pas.

This book revolves around Geneva McBride, She's dead. She died and is now in some sort of Purgatory where she is forced to atone for her deserting her husband and baby by reuniting her husband Jonah McBride with his true love. God, apparently, gives Geneva a second chance because Geneva had a bad family and all so apparently she really can't help being like that. It's nice to see that God condones the shifting of accountability over one's behaviors onto one's sad, sad childhood.

Excuse me, my parents never bought me that car I always wanted, so it's not my fault that they caught me with a crowbar in my hand and one foot through the shattered window of Bill Gates' Mercedes. Don't blame me. Hate my parents instead, God.

Jonah's true love is apparently an amnesiac woman he calls "Angel". There must be a joke in there somewhere. Jonah finds Angel sleeping in his restaurant's bathroom. Yes, there really has to be a joke here. Never mind that his restaurant is going the way of Planet Hollywood (read: bankrupt) and Katie the Monster Kid is trying to be sick just to be precious - Jonah has a bigger priority in life: getting everybody in town to pretend that he is Angel's husband. Don't ask me why. Maybe because there's nothing to watch on TV now that Touched By An Angel has ended in a glorious finale that sees an alleged child rapist playing God. Touched By An Angel - hallelujah!

That's the problem number one I have with this book: apparently "Angel" is a natural with that monster kid so Jonah decides that he must play along so that she can be his unpaid nanny. How wonderful. Is "true love" an euphemism for "cheap labor"?

This story is so saccharine that even the half-baked "mystery" of Angel's past fails to lift this story out of the neck-deep level of syrupy goo it is immersed in. Even more annoying is Geneva's heavy-handed redemption, which sees housewifely values, blame-it-on-others psychology, and "love is everything" mawkishness being doled out by Ms Altom as if she's the new AOL spokesperson handing out those stupid AOL free CDs by the bucket load.

Ultimately, Blue Moon aims for the Touched By An Angel apple-pie Southern comforts preciousness and homeliness, but somehow it takes a wrong turn somewhere and ends up being too sweet yet too contrived instead.

Rating: 60

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