Onyx, $6.99, ISBN 0-451-41087-4
Contemporary Romance, 2003
Bed of Lies is a transparently fake and insincere trauma porn story should come with a tape recording of canned weeping. That way, every time the author piles on the crap, I can switch on the tape and the room will be filled with the sound of Barney the Dinosaur going “Eek, eek, eek!” while Madonna wails “Don’t cry for me Argentina!” in the background. Teresa Hill isn’t crafting a story as much as she is ticking off a laundry list of traumas heavy-handedly, force-feeding me with blatant manipulative schmaltz.
Another thing: the main characters’ trauma is a spillover from the author’s previous books. Yes, this is a McRae book. The McRae are single-handedly the most depressed and abused and traumatized whackjobs ever, and they find love with equally depressed people. Misery is inbreeding.
Zach McRae and Julie Morrison were close as kids. They meet again when she is this close to marrying a man who doesn’t know of her past. They embark on an affair. Her parents were abusive and drunkards, his father murdered his mother and now he is tormented, her parents are still crapping on her and her brother is playing the abandonment guilt card which she laps up like a starving braindead dog mistaking gasoline as water, Zach is all torn up when he fails to defend a mentally-handicapped 14-year old who murdered his father, and I hang myself in the middle of the town square with “Trauma Porn Sucks!” written across my naked bosom in dripping red ink.
Seriously, the characters here aren’t just damaged – they are loosing the screws in their brain even as we speak. Unfortunately, the author’s idea of these characters dealing with their issues are either sex or weeping or wallowing in guilt, repeat, repeat, repeat. When one problem seems to be solved, ta-da, another one will magically crop up like evil bad pennies that will never die. These characters aren’t tortured – they’re trauma magnets and they are the shining beacon in the universe that beam waves of guilt and self-immolation to the farthest reaches of existence.
And there’s no humor, no levity, nothing, not even a believable happily ever after to offer some inspirational moment. Just a long, heavy-handed, badly written litany of depressive baggage moving along the conveyor belt, with Teresa Hill in her cute air stewardess uniform standing by with a pen and clipboard, ticking away as each baggage passes her on a one-way trip into the black hole.