Just Over The Mountain
by Robyn Carr, contemporary (2002)
MIRA, $6.50, ISBN 1-55166-940-4

This is my first Robyn Carr book, and I feel as if I have parachuted right onto the cake in the local Thomas Kinkade Fan Club Gathering. A sequel to, uh, is Just Over The Mountain a sequel to Deep In The Valley? Maybe, maybe not, but either way, this book bewilders me. I don't know what to think of it.

This story is set in Grace Valley, California, where apparently the selling point is "where the best things in life never change". No, I don't think they're talking about freelove and Woodstock and marijuana gardens here, love, try no privacy, ultra-gossipy neighbors, and dotty, dotty dingbats that are probably fugitives from the nearest loonyhouse.

The back blurb leads me to expect a love story between a doctor, June Hudson, and the DEA agent Jim Post, complicated when her ex Chris Forrest and his two kids arrive in Grace Valley fresh from a divorce. In the first few chapters, this seems to be the case, as everyone in town cheerleads our heroine to get back with the guy, apparently they forgetting that this guy is the one who dumps our heroine for the town hussy. (Needless to say, the town hussy, a pretty girl, prefers living in some sinful city and hence an Unworthy Woman.)

Chris shows up. I wait for her and June to interact. I wait, and I wait, and I wait. Tick, tick, tick, goes the clock. After the while, I decide that the idiot who wrote the back blurb is a bloody liar. This isn't a love triangle story. It's a collection of anecdotes about the dotty residents of Grace Valley. Every chapter introduces a new guy or gal (or maybe they are recurrent characters from the last book, I don't know), doing silly things like gossiping, chit chatting, and prying into everybody's business. I frown and walk up to the window to make sure that the neighbors aren't peeking in. Okay, this book makes me paranoid.

No, wait. Then the focus of the story changes. Human bones are found in June's aunt's garden, and they may belong to her missing husband... or do they? Did she do it? Frankly, since I don't know who these people are, so I don't care even if they are bones of King Kong. Can we have some hot sex now? I'm bored. And confused by the huge ensemble cast.

Along the way, I begin jotting down notes. June is a doctor but apparently, she knows she is barren because she always forget her birth control and since she's never pregnant, she must be barren! Of course. Maybe they have a shortage of doctors in that place, so every Moomoo and Ozark Hicksville can be a doctor if they can help deliver the local cow's baby. Or something.

Fertility tests? What's that? Is that some evil liberal conspiracy to encourage promiscuity on our youth?

I wait for someone to take the bones to some lab for some forensics analysis. I wait and I wait and I wait. Don't these people have some CSI thing nearby?

Some things really never change in this place, I marvel. These people are still stuck in the 1920s, and the sad thing is, they actually believe that it's a good thing. If sex toys aren't illegal in Singapore along with oral and anal sex (yes, it's a miserable place, this Singapore - the powers to be love to imagine that we have sex only to make babies and even so, we do it fully-clothed and in the missionary position - HEY, YOU KINKADIANS, DON'T YOU DARE EMMIGRATE HERE!), I may just be tempted to rip a page or two out of this book just to clean a giant-sized rubber ding dong. How's that for progress, huh?

Sorry, I wouldn't be so mean if this author has at least given me a chance to know the characters better or at least give this book a focus. One moment it's a half-baked love story, then it's the animals in a James Herriot novel pretending to be humans, and then it's a cozy mystery. The author takes me for granted that I have read the previous book. Well, I haven't. Bye-bye.

Rating: 55

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