Hope's Highway
by Dorothy Garlock, historical (2004)
Warner, $6.99, ISBN 0-446-61169-7

If this is working well for Dorothy Garlock in terms of success in the business, good for her. It is not so good for me, the reader, though, because Hope's Highway is the latest of the author's increasingly formulaic Depression-era romances. The saintly heroine in distress, her no-good rascally father, the brooding "will never love ever" hero, the children in need, and of course, villains so cartoonish that they come complete with crude patois. The characters in this story are cardboard thin to the point that it's a matter of joining the dots for the reader to go from Plot Point A to Plot Point Z, skipping the points in between because we have already been there, read everything, and resold them all to the UBS.

In Hope's Highway, it's like a matter of filling in the blanks. The heroine is Margie Kinnard. Her distress is that she has no money after being robbed blind by her now ex-boyfriend. Her father is a deadbeat dad who only reestablishes contact with Margie. Hmm, I wonder why. Margie, Dad, and friends join a group of people as they form a caravan entourage to Chicago, where hopefully all their dreams will come true. The road is fraught with troubles, however. The hero is Brady Hoyt. Yes, he will never love because someone in his family has been brutalized by love before, blah blah blah.

Whatever, really. Dorothy Garlock is smart to carve herself a niche in Depression-era Americana, but she's close to parodying herself with this unimaginatively formulaic story that follows the same formula as her last few books. What happened to Jill Barnett? Maybe a little competition would shake the apparently now-complacent Ms Garlock into stirring things up a bit in her writing. Hope's Highway goes straight into mundaneness.

Rating: 49

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