by Linda Hudson-Smith, contemporary (2003)
Arabesque, $6.99, ISBN 1-58314-396-3
The trouble with Sass is that the author writes in a way that her game plan becomes very obvious and I can spot her coming from a mile away. Scenes are constructed in such an obviously contrived manner that they don't flow with the story - they're there just because the author wants to make a grand statement about forgiveness, love, yadda yadda cheescakes yadda.
Sass Stephens is reunited with her ex, Kristopher Chandler, the man having walked out on her when she was pregnant. Now her kid has brought them back together - so what now? Sass has a secret, however, and this secret sees her waffling back and fro like an insecure spine-free limpet while the hero heavy-handedly sprouts greeting card yammering that make me cringe. Sass' secret is easily guessable, which makes the story even less interesting.
But what really gets to me though is the fact that the author uses the entire premise to deliver some hackneyed feel-good mantra. The characters don't come off like human beings but walking greeting cards. It is perplexing how the author treats the conflict between those two characters like some minor thing that can go away if Kristopher launches into a purple speech about living life for today or something like that. Sass is always wrong too often and Kristopher is always there to push her into doing things his way. Nothing seems real here - just an overlong greeting card offering superficial resolutions of life's various dramas.
This is a story about forgiveness. The problem is, the author knows it and she will keep at it until everything in this story is overly boiled and overwritten to come off stilted, contrived, and unbearably corny. Sass is anything but sassy. Ain't that a pity. It is its own "Get well" card.
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