Avon Impulse, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-06-233174-8
Contemporary Romance, 2014
The three Willis sisters may have a father who is on the political fast lane, but they are a… disappointment… to the father in many ways. For Valerie Willis, she’s the wild one, having been there and done everything. She returns to a chilly and occasionally hostile reception in Rock Canyon, mostly because of her wild ways and her recent divorce haven’t done much to endear her to the judgmental folks. Val is back to check on her younger sister and ensure that Ellie doesn’t go off the rails and do something really stupid in her efforts to rebel against their father.
Also in town is Justin Silverton, the Marine in the title of this book. He and Val had a thing until her father intervened and the two of them now believed their thing wasn’t that big a thing for the other person, if you know what I mean. He’s back in town to take care of his father, who seems to be losing the fight with the bottle. Can he and Val have a good second time around this time? Or will all the daddy issues – on both their parts – do them in?
One good thing about this story is the romance. Justin and Val have a relationship that flows like it’s something natural and believable, and the chemistry between the two is pretty good. Both characters seem to like one another.
However, the romance is almost buried under a mountain of issues. The sad thing, these issues are played out ones that I have come across many times before, and the author doesn’t succeed in making them feel fresh or interesting. Every time Val tries to do something right, the author would contrive to plant something in her path to either embarrass Val or cause her to need Justin to help her out in some way. This becomes a pattern that makes the story feel unnecessarily mechanical. Justin fares better, but that’s because he’s the hero and, therefore, he’s the guy who would provide emotional comfort and succor and, therefore, less susceptible to screwing up for the sake of the plot. Val’s father is too much like a cartoon villain to be believable, and Justin’s father is just pathetic.
There are many issues here, but the author chooses to wrap everything up in a tidy and unbelievable parcel. Basically, every screwed up loser gets back to the straight and narrow path just because the happy ending demands everyone to strike a happy pose. I don’t believe that these people would end up normal so easily like that, not without either plenty of medication or a complete personality transplant. The later parts of the story also has Val running around acting like a martyr. It’s nice to have the hero actually wondering why the heroine does this nonsense and gets mad at being treated this way, but the heroine doing that stunt is just another tired-ass plot development in a story already overloaded with tired-ass elements.
Ultimately, Bad Girls Don’t Marry Marines feel like any standard small town blues story, right down to the inexplicable epilogue where these people continue to stay in the small town that treated the heroine like crap and the heroine becoming pregnant after moaning all this while about how “damaged” she is. The main characters are alright together, but the plot creaks along like a very contrived take on the most forgettable small town blues story out there.