Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-380-81438-2
Contemporary Romance, 2001
Oh, Rachel Gibson. You know, I just realize a reason why none of her books have hit the keeper grade for me. It’s a silly reason, but I’ll say it anyway: her heroes remind me of all kinds of Mr Wrong. Oh, stop laughing.
But True Confessions is not a bad book, really. The heroine Hope Spencer is just darned cool – she’s my type of heroines, really, only a little neurotic, not at all sexually dysfunctional, and she doesn’t treat sex like the holy grail where a woman’s life begins and ends around the morning after. She retreats to the redneck town of Gospel in some backward hidey holes of Idaho to get some quiet R&R. Hopefully she will regain her muse and start cranking up tabloid headlines like Satan Photographed in Wilderness Town for her tabloid paper.
Well, her house turns out to haunted, or so according to rumors. The townspeople are less than warm in their reception – what do you expect from a colony of rednecks, anyway? – and she is plagued by that handsome sheriff Dylan Taber and his son Adam. And, of course, the mystery of the dead previous owner of Hope’s place (which Hope plans to cover), Dylan’s issues with his ex-wife, and other redneck hijinks add to the mix.
But you know what? True Confessions just meanders. Seriously, the plot doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Just scenes and episodes more suited for the anecdote sections in Reader’s Digest stringed along into 370 pages. It makes for some mildly amusing reading, but I wish there are some emotional scenes of Dylan and Hope. There are love scenes, oh yes, and despite Dylan’s ineptness with a condom (altogether now: redneck!), they are hot enough to combust me eyebrows. And while I also love how Hope can try to put these sexual episodes in perspective – she doesn’t know him well, so she can discount these as one-night stands and not some until-I-die-I-will-pine-for-him nonsense, I also wish there is something more than sex. Maybe some non-sexual teasing or something.
And the conflict at the end? Oh, Dylan’s outbursts of misogyny drives home what an asshole he is.
But the characterization is one of the stronger points here. Rednecks or not, the characters do come off cute, eccentric, exasperating, or vexing – in short, they make great slightly-larger-than-life figures in this story. When Dylan is charming, oh, beware, ladies. Hope is also a rather fully-figured character with enough baggage and sardony to balance out the town folks’ Gilmore Girls-gone-hillbilly attitudes. In short, True Confessions is a sparkling, fizzy champagne of a read. Too bad it’s more of a sex-fun read with little emotional poignancy to beef up the bed-bumpings. And the lack of focus, that too.