First Comes Love
by Christie Ridgway, contemporary (2002)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-81895-7

Christie Ridgway has written an amazing story about the stupid mating habits of the people of Planet Agohodabra... what do you mean that it is a contemporary novel set on Earth? It is?

Oh. Okay.

Maybe the Agohodabrans have landed? No?

If that's the case, First Comes Love suffers from a case of terminal stupidity in the plot department. Two huge plot stupid-dupid doofies, and I just cannot bring myself to read this book without blood gushing out copiously from my eyes, nose, ears, and mouth.

Stupid-dupid one: a celebrity FBI hero, featured in some magazine as the most sexy eligible bachelor or something. Uh... a celebrity FBI agent? Is there such a thing? How I pity Dylan Matthews, the FBI agent in question. The next time he goes undercover to infiltrate the Tijuana Marijuana Cartel, boy, is he dead meat. Same with the Yakuzas, Mafiosi, and Teletubbies. Either way, poor Dylan's career is over, thanks to Ms Ridgway's compulsive need to exorcise the demons in her soul.

Stupid-dupid two: the plot. See, there's this tradition in Hot Water, California, where you can marry, but the marriage is not legit until the bride registers the marriage one year later. Dylan and heroine Kitty Wilder get married the none-legit way when they were 18 in some crowd-pulling tourist attraction sham. But Kitty, one year later, registers the marriage.

Why does she even want to do such a stupid thing like this? The author offers a most pathetic excuse for Kitty: poor Kitty, who came from a long line of saloon/brothel madams, is so starved for... er, something, I guess. Because whatever this something is, I don't have a word for it except "terminal, chronic insanity". See, Kitty wants to be normal, but now she is stuck playing (fake) brothel owner in some tourist attraction scheme in Hot Water. Apparently, she's doing this for her aunt, the poor people who for some freaking reason cannot just move out and get a job in the next town if they are so poor, the cats, the dogs, the drunkard multiple-UFO abductee...

Kitty is mad. That is my explanation for her actions. I mean, why would she get married to a guy without telling him, and then when he storms back in her life years, years later demanding an explanation, she screams and goes "Oh, oh, oh!"? She calls Dylan her One Silly Mistake. Silly? She has pretty much ruined Dylan's life and she calls it silly?

Maybe this is Ms Ridgway's cry for help. Something like "Help! I've written too many stupid plots for Harlequin/Silhouette, and now I cannot stop writing stupiditus infinitus plot, so somebody please stop meeee!"

I can go on about the heroine's increasingly nutjob antics, like how she tells herself that she doesn't want to stifle Dylan but goes all jealous when she hears that Dylan, Superstar FBI and Soon To Be Dead Meat On His Next Assignment Dude, is probably marrying some celebrity heiress woman and goes all frantic and hysterical as she tries to save Aunt, Drunk Sheriff, and every fricking stupid morons that live in Hot Water... When she blackmails our hero into staying and helping her reenact roles from history, this book flies across the room and misses the paper shredder by this close.

Look, my sympathies to the refugees of the Vietnam Agent Orange that is the Harlequin/Silhouette sweat shops only go so far. I understand that writing non-stop secret baby/cowboy/stupid lawyer heroines can be traumatic, but I draw the line at being dragged to witness the darkest traumas of these poor souls. Especially when I have to pay to witness it. So please, please, please, Ms Ridgway, before you subject me to another story this ridiculous and stupid, please - write out all the excess demons in a journal or something first. And then sit down and write me a good book. Or at least one that makes sense.

Now let's move on to the next book.

Rating: 04

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