Into The Woods
by Linda Jones, historical (2001)
LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52428-7

Do we really hate our beautiful fellow women that much? Is being beautiful and rich such a sin if these traits do not come with humility, non-existant self-esteem, and virginity? There are times like this, reading Into The Woods, that I am glad I am not living out any fantasies presented by romance novels. If I'm drop dead gorgeous with knockers the size of dinner plates and men find me attractive and irresistible, you bet I won't be going the "Oh, I'm not pretty, I prefer studying to flirting, no siree" nonsense track. Joaquin Phoenix, I'm coming to get you... hee, hee, hee.

Anyway, I'm on a rant because Into The Woods turns the Other Woman in this story into a complete nitwit of a shrill, scheming hag. Do we need this? It's a story based on the folk tale Hensel and Gretel, but minus the Freudian siblings angle, the serial killer witch thingie, and the Electra complex syndromes. The heroine, in fact, is mould after the witch. Matilda Candy is a local witch of Tanglewood, Mississippi (circa 1875). Okay, she's not a witch per se but a talented healer woman who makes lovely candies. Shunned by other townsfolks (they asked her for remedies privately though), her only buddies are two kids, Hanson and Gretchen who loves her candies.

I mean candies, literally, by the way.

Declan Harper - I don't know who he is based after, to be honest - is the former white trash made good. Now he has plans, big plans, to avenge himself on the snobby townsfolks. He will marry the local heiress in the area, thus pissing off the richest man in the area, and to do that, he will ask Matilda for a love potion. When he sees her, however, ooh, he wants Matilda too. As a mistress, of course.

Matilda, flustered by such a virile man drooling over her hooters, doesn't know what to do.

And oh yeah, Declan's intended, Vanessa, has a lover too. A servant. *gasp* Isn't that disgusting? It's not like Declan sparking with the outcast witch downtown, definitely. Ho. The things they must teach rich debutantes in finishing schools these days! Oh, the morals of the ladies today are so shocking!

Someone bite me, but I have to ask: just how exactly is Vanessa's behavior different from Declan? Oh yeah, she's a woman, she's rich, and she doesn't have a misunderstood childhood like Declan.

Into The Woods is a pretty standard witch/rich man romance with the kids cute factor thrown in. Predictable, light, and very readable. But it wants me to castigate the other woman for doing the exact sins our hero commits, while at the same time, it wants me to understand and empathize with the hero. Sorry, my double standards don't go that far.

Rating: 68

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