by Sonia Icilyn, contemporary (2001)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-217-7

Desney Westbourne is a popular soap star who portrays a drug addict in a show called It's A Wide World. The smelly stuff hits the ceiling when Bribe, a tabloid - sorry, a magazine (romance heroes don't do tabloids, just like romance heroines don't do the promiscuous, drug-snorting actress thing) - claims that Des may have taken the getting-into-her-role thingie a bit too seriously.

And when Des storms into editor Wade O Beresford's office demanding a retraction, she sees this hot hunk and... ooh, my. Wade ends up taking on a new assignment: he will be where she is day and night, just so that she can prove to him that she is clean, she doesn't do drugs (or the director or the costume guy or the camera guy or the... you know).

Can't a lawsuit do the job? Oh, this is a romance novel. Excuse me, I tend to forget that heroes are allowed to make snap judgments on the heroine in the name of the Penis Privilege. Do carry on, Des and Wade.

Of course, Wade will realize what a pure, innocent, untainted woman Des is. I mean, so what if she's an actress (eeeuw - ranks up there with lingerie models and beautiful women as Ho's of the Millennium), she has no social life and she doesn't have indiscriminate premarital sex. He's in love.

The story proceeds to piddle to its predictable ending. Can an actress find happiness while juggling her career? In the meantime, every bad Jackie Collins novel cliché that is a movie set cast makes its appearance. The ho's, the lecherous male pigs... all that's missing is the gay best friend of the heroine.

I do find myself riveted by the flashbacks to our two leads' family tree, no mean feat considering the author's bombastic style of writing. But at the end of the day, this is a story of a woman who would jump through hoops to prove herself to a man she doesn't even need to prove anything to, when a lawsuit will just as well suffice. It's also a story of a Pure Woman amidst the degrading filth and dirt that is sex orgies and drug bouquet showers that is the world of TV and movies. Does that sound interesting to you?

Me, I'm off to catch up with the latest Hollywood sleaze. Do you know they prefer injecting cocaine under their fingernails now? The things rich and famous people do, I tell you. Sure beats this dull story of a Poor Lil' Rich Innocent Girl and her equally dull love story of fairy tale perfection.

Rating: 67

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