When She's Bad
by Leanne Banks, contemporary (2003)
Warner, $5.99, ISBN 0-446-61173-5

Leanne Banks' debut full-length book for Warner is hackneyed and stereotypical beyond belief but the main characters manage to rise above their contrived roots to provide an entertaining read. In When She's Bad, however, the author positively revels in her main characters' bizarre stupidity as well as their utterly, wretchedly contrived and formulaic series novel bastardy. The result is a book that is positively agonizing to endure.

Delilah Montague is the heroine from Blazing Stoopid Hell. Her mother is a slutty type and her father is the preacher type so she has the bipolar "me sexy/not really" nonsense that many romance authors, for some reason, think are cute personality traits for their heroines. She inherits a spa from her sugar daddy, who, of course, is not really her sugar daddy as he is impotent and she is just his good friend and I want to throw up into the plot kitchen sink the author is shoving under my nose. So, late sugar-daddy-not-really's daughter hates her and everyone thinks she's a slut, so yes, it is up to our heroine to prove that she's no Whore but a Madonna, only she's a Madonna with a Porn Star body to keep the hero happy.

Our hero Benjamin Huntington III is her neighbor that keeps her awake all night with his banging the walls with his hammer and drills and what-not while turning the radio on at full blast. For some reason, he thinks that his apartment is sound proof. I know neighbors like this - in fact, there's one just two apartments down from my place, and trust me, I do not want to sleep with the man that raises the ruckus. Try instead me wanting to beat him in the head with a briefcase filled with bricks, because I swear, if he keeps bringing his buddies for all-night karaoke and mah-jong one more time, I will... ahem. Anyway, Benju here has lost his job and his wife-to-be because he is too honest and he stands up to some shady dealings in his law firm. So now he's playing with a drill in the middle of the night, although alas he's not sticking that drill up some sensitive orifice of his body.

These two don't like each other, but when the author sics a baby at Delooloo (hey, heroines gotta prove that they're worthy Good Mothers before they find true love, you know), Delooloo and Benju really get together, but this is a excuse for Delooloo to start beating that "Not worthy" dead horse. After all, she's from a trashy background while he is of some respectable old-money family, so she cannot marry him. No, love, goodbye love, but that doesn't mean she can't sleep with him and then wail that oh, she wants more but she can't have more. I don't know what universe I have stepped into where it's more respectable to have sex where the heroine is too desperate and miserable to fully enjoy than to actually marry a man that loves her. Maybe it's the Twilight-Intelligence MartyrWorld, which I understand is the biggest planet in the Dud Galaxy.

Wretched isn't strong enough a word to describe the excruciating fidelity Ms Banks displays in her running through the shopping list of everything agonizing about a bad contemporary romance. Neurotic and martyr heroine doing plenty of stupid things, dumb baby plots, bizarre depiction of female sexuality... tick, tick, tick, and tick, tick, tick too goes the time bomb in my brain until it nearly explodes from the overload of everything bad that can be found in, well, When She's Bad. Oh yes, When She's Bad, that's right.

Rating: 40

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