by Nicole Foster, contemporary category (2001)
Harlequin Historical, $4.99, ISBN 0-373-29160-4
Katlyn McLain, virtuous daughter of popular singer Penelope Rose, is in a dilemma. Her mother is sick, and now, Katlyn has to take over her place in an upcoming show. It's okay, the people of Cimarron has never seen Penelope, and the heat has probably fried their brains to the point that they wouldn't notice that "Penelope Rose" is twenty years younger now. I mean, hey, put Britney Spears in a Madonna concert - who will notice? Right?
Case Durham owns the salon where Rose is to perform. He may own a salon, but he's not evil. His stupid, slutty, evil, and let's throw in syphilic just for good measure wife, who deserted him and his dear daughter (all Harlequin books must have a spare kid somewhere to redeem our heroines) - now that bitch is the evil one. Case is just a misunderstood single daddy, y'know? He hates lying women - can we hear an "amen" from the congregation - and he falls for this "Songbird" who is not who she says she is. Put in a poor boo-hoo lonely Emily who needs a mother. If you can't tell where this story is heading, I envy you. Wish I am that sheltered from predictable formulaic storytellings myself.
Okay, so the people of Cimarron have fried green tomatoes for brains. Well, our Kat fits right in. Her mother is transparently selfish and conceited, but Kat, she will do anything to make Momma happy (MomNMe4eva!!!) - oh well, this one is better than the usual unhealthy Father-Daughter codependency, I suppose. She will do anything to make Case happy. Anything to make that daughter Emily happy! Who wants to get his or her car washed? Come on, drop a word to Case and Kat will drop by with a pail and soap.
This story could have ended around 100 pages early if the authors (Nicole Foster is actually two collaborating authors) - or editor, or the marketing personnel - decide that readers want, nay, demand a heroine who keeps saying no. Please, stop those marketing people from reading any more Stephanie Laurens novel. Anyway, there is no good reason for Kat to say no, but she says no. No, no, no. I say no too. No, no, no to badly written, badly-plotted, too-predictable stories with little convincing (much less deep) character development. Cimarron Rose is the instant noodle equivalent of a romance novel. Ne-eee-eee-eext!
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