by Gwynne Forster, contemporary (2001)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-192-8
Scarlet Woman doesn't make sense. It has a plot that screams "1984", and its characters are so unsympathetic that the only thing going for it is the author's easy storytelling style.
Melinda Rodgers seems like an intelligent sort at first, if a little bit of a doormat. But that's because her preacher father holds everybody tight in his suffocating chokehold. When an elderly man proposes marriage to Melinda, she accepts because she likes that guy and she wants the freedom from her family.
Turns out this Big Daddy is as much a control freak as her father. When he kicks the bucket, his will states that Melinda must marry within the year or all the money will go to charity.
Now, come on, do we still have wills like this anymore? And why can't Mel just head to the court and contest the will? This will is the closest thing to sexual harassment, dead people style, and I'm sure she will have no problem getting at least some of the money back.
But ah, romance heroines. They don't do greedy Anna Nicole Smith thingies like contesting inheritances, you know. It's not as noble as suffering in silence.
Her dead hubby's lawyer Blake Hunter hates Mel. Because he thinks she's a money hungry slut. Never mind that she hasn't run through her husband's money like a ship through water, and never mind that she isn't eating $500 dinners every night and splashing all her money on yacht cruises to the Bahamas with Taye Diggs. She must be a slut, because... er, because. Yeah, because!
Naturally, our hero just can't contain his humongous swollen pee-pee for her. Great taste in women, Blake!
Mel is a doormat who takes Blake's incessant want-you/hate-you BS like a supermartyr. The whole romance hinges on our Poor Little Rich Girl trying her best to convince a moron that she isn't what he stupidly thinks she is - oh, love her, Blake, please love her because she is so puuuuuurrrreee and innnoooooocceeeent! The best way I can describe Scarlet Woman is that it is a story of a pathetic, clingy, emotionally codependent Daddy's girl being traded around first from Daddy to Sugar Daddy to finally, Hot Sexy Younger Daddy Thang. This plot is so 1980s, so vintage-trashy-pop-novels, and so dated and uninteresting. Not to mention out of touch with today's modern norms.
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