Hot Summer Nights
by Bridget Anderson, contemporary (2003)
Arabesque, $6.99, ISBN 1-58314-333-5

Short books are fine with me as long as they tell a good story. Bridget Anderson's Hot Summer Nights however is not just short, the characters all act as if they are merely going through the motions and they can't wait for the story to end. If this is a play, I'd hazard a guess that the cast must be on strike. Since this a book, I wonder if this book is one of those Deadlines Ahoy rush jobs.

Bobbi Cunningham is a tough and hardened woman who, when she is not trying to get the younger family members of hers out of trouble, is attending night classes. In one of those classes, she encounters Quentin Brooks. Sparks fly, but neither trust the attraction, but when they end up partners in a project about prisons (there's probably a joke in there somewhere), they may have something good going. Thing is, Bobbi has a very jaded view on convicts and ex-cons alike (her father is in prison for dealing drugs), and Quentin is an ex-con. Oh my is right.

Thing is, the author writes in such a way that the characters are flat. Conversations come off like bad lines spoken off a teleprompter in a particularly bad soap opera and character motivations are rarely consistent. What is consistent though is the main characters' acting like complete dweebs when it comes to communication. Bobbi tries to keep her father's sad history from her new man while her new man tries to keep his sad history from her. The unfortunate result of this mess is Bobbi degenerating into a complete shrill.

The book starts out pretty decently - the characters seem like real people with real problems - but by the end of the book, it's just one big convoluted mess caused by people trying to keep unnecessary secrets and silence in really annoying ways. The writing is stilted and dry too. It feels as if the author can't wait to finish this book, toss it out to the Fed-Ex man, and completely forget about the book soon after. If I'm in a better mood, I may cluck in empathy and ask, "Dear, dear, is it that bad?" If, that is. I'm thinking of that nice hot fudge, mocha, and raspberry swirl banana split I could have had with the $6.99 I spent on this book. Yes dear, it's that bad.

Rating: 54

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