A Ghost For Maggie
by Emily Carmichael, paranormal(1999)
Bantam, $5.50, ISBN 0-553-57875-8

Bad girls always get shortchanged in romances. I kid you not. These poor ladies who enjoy a normal healthy social and sex life always get typecast as vindictive Jezebels, adulterous greedy young wives of aging men, power-hungry castrating Delilahs, or widows/mistresses who either get discarded or become the token prize for the hero's best friend. I tell you, these poor women need a new agent.

To add insult to the injury, it's always the pale, quiet, socially dysfunctional women who gets the virile man. These pallid women who don't even like men and probably has no experience with the Big O, who go around bungling up their plans for revenge/deception/job promotion because their hormones can't handle the heat of seeing Mr Hunk in a tight Tee... yucks. And even worse are the goodie-goodie wimpy cry-baby women without any sense of humor who get the Man.

Never mind the Bad Girl is funny, friendly, confident, secure with her body and intimacy, and a total man-magnet. No, no, no, the Boring Good Closet Librarian Woman must win. Case in point? A Ghost For Maggie.

Maybe a bordello madam is a bit extreme for a Bad Girl, but in this case, Robin Rowe the ghost is a spunky, wisecracking ghost who steals every scene she is in. Why can't the story be about her? The heroine Maggie Potter, the last of Robin's descendant, is your typical made-from-the-Romance-genre-cookie-cutter I hate men, they're all useless heroine. Boring. Maggie is opening a bed-and-breakfast at Robin's former bordello, and Robin takes this golden opportunity to find Maggie a man.

The man in question is another boring yawner of a hero, Colby Drake. Colby Drake is a reporter for a sensationalist rag (although he insists his column is above such things... of course).

A while ago, Maggie was implicated as the Jezebel that broke up a prominent political candidate's marriage and now Colby wants to dig out the dirt. He poses as a doggie reporter and tries to win into Maggie's affection. Man-hating woman. Cheating reporter. If you can't see where the story is going, you're obviously new to the genre. Ah, the joy of not having read so many cookie-cutter romances. By the way, I half hoped that Maggie is the Jezebel they implicated her to be, but guess what? Hint: She's the kind of woman that wears white Mickey Mouse undershorts, ie a woman with no sex life.

Maggie has no sense of humor. Colby is as interesting as an evening of straightening cold spaghetti strands. I'm more interested in the relationship between Maggie's kooky, funny half-sister Catherine and bookstore owner Tom because Catherine is way more vibrant than pallid colorless Maggie and Tom, well, I always have a soft spot for bookish nerds.

In Ms Carmichael's previous book Finding Mr Right, I enjoyed myself tremendously because the character of Lydia/Miss Piggy the grumpy corgie stole the entire show. I must also admit that I'm nuts about dogs, and Miss Piggy's hilarious observations of the silly creatures called humans as well as a human perspective on life as a doggie made that book unique, a keeper. No such fun in A Ghost For Maggie. Robin is funny, she is spunky, but her scenes are sparse and superficial. Maggie and Colby are given full reins of the show, and hence the whole dullness of their relationship stands out like the Statue of Liberty among a field of mushrooms. Boring, boring, boring.

Frankly, if I want to know about a typical ho-hum relationship featuring ho-hum characters, I can get it in extra-strong doses in my reading circle AKA Gossip Central. When a romance novel features a romance between a heroine so bland she can be anyone, even the girl-next-door, and a hero who is barely two-dimensional, I'll pass.

Why can't Robin be the heroine of her romance? Why must the spunky broad never higher in the food chain than Best Buddy-hood? Those poor things. It must be tough being a romance heroine.

Rating: 46

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