Field Of Pleasure
by Farrah Rochon, contemporary (2011)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86227-6

Six months ago, the star cornerback of the New York Sabers, Jared Dawson, discovered his girlfriend of ten years riding his professional rival like a reigning bronc champion. Today, our hero is feeling emo and all torn up, until he meets Chyna McCrea, the new choreographer for the Saberrette cheerleaders. Sure, the Saberettes have a no-fraternization policy, but rules are made to be broken, and Jared really feels like making the goal with Chyna. Too bad that Chyna is an insane banshee from hell.

Okay, the author clearly doesn't mean to make Chyna a demented howler monkey of a heroine, but that's what that wretch turns out to be. Chyna has issues, so many of them that she can open her own magazine stand in some street corner. These issues cause her to become one of the worst killjoy heroines I've ever come across. Nothing the hero does can please her - she finds fault with everything he does, and even when she's secretly purring with pleasure, she's determined to drive him away by being crazy. Apparently she's too busy chasing her dream to become a professional dancer, you see, and she knows that Jared is only fooling around, she knows that she has no time for him, and naturally, it's his fault that she can't resist putting out to him. Meanwhile, she doesn't go out with her friends. Come to think of it, she doesn't even do anything - it's always these friends coming around to be nice to her, and I have no idea why. Chyna is also mean and confrontational towards her sick father. That man is old and ill - come on!

This story is in trouble when the heroine is constantly being rude and nasty to the point that I have no idea why anyone will want anything to do with her. There are people with sticks up their rear ends, and then there is Chyna, who must have at least two telephone poles stuck up her rear end.

The climax of this story, believe it or not, is Chyna walking away from Jared because she irrationally and stubbornly insists that he is using her to get over his ex-girlfriend. The straw that breaks Chyna's back is - get this - him buying her a dance studio of her own because he knows how much she wants to be a dancer. To Chyna, this gesture of his is beyond the pale. How dare he treats her like a whore! By buying her a studio, he is dogging her independence and making her a charity case! How dare he! Be off with him! What a bastard! BASTARD!

And you know what's the best part? As an overreaction to being "treated like a whore", Chyna quits her job. She knows that she will be in dire financial trouble because of her resignation, but you know, it's a matter of principle. Mad woman principle. It's better to die a failed dancer who hates everybody than to be seen as a whore, even if she has already examined his tonsils and private parts up close and personal ten thousand ways to Sunday. Like I've said, mad woman principle.

What's really perplexing here is that Ms Rochon has an idea of how horrible her heroine is being, but she misses the point completely when she has Jared - an alright hero who could have passed himself off as sane were not for his persistent pursuit of the demented Chyna - saying that he has learned from Chyna that life is not "all about giving" and he needs to think about himself too. Hello? What is Ms Rochon doing? Don't listen to her, millionaires of this world - if you want to buy your lady expensive presents to demonstrate your affection to her, please do and don't ever stop. Beyoncé Knowles may claim to be an independent woman because she can buy her own bling-bling, but that wretch is rich enough to buy her own private island, so she's the one to talk. Any millionaire who wants to buy me a dance studio, please give generously. Of course I'd be happy to accept the pretty!

In the end, Chyna learns that she is loved and she can finally stop being afraid to live. Hah. By that point, I'm not sure that "being afraid to live" is an accurate diagnosis of Chyna's issues. "In dire need of psychiatric help", more like.

This excruciatingly painful read is worth a look, if only because this is the first book I've read where a hero going all lengths to buy the heroine an expensive romantic gift gets her all foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog. Otherwise, stay far away. There's plenty of crazy in this book - way too much crazy.

Rating: 13

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