Blue Bayou
by JoAnn Ross, contemporary (2002)
Pocket, $6.99, ISBN 0-7434-3682-2

How amazing. JoAnn Ross deserves a prize for cramming in what seems like every single contemporary romance cliché in existance in her latest, Blue Bayou. Of course, as it is often in cases like this, reading Blue Bayou is like autopiloting an aircraft while heavily sedated on tranquilizers. It's as exciting as watching a turtle marathon.

Anyway, ready? Let's fire the cliché torpedos and rock the world.

Heroine: Danielle Dupree. Miserable single mother. Returns home to bayou smalltown, whipped and humiliated after a sad attempt at real life in the Big Bad World outside. Drags with her her lil' son after thirteen years of lousy marriage, nasty hubby, et freaking cetera.

Hero: Jack Callahan. Ex-secret superhero. Now retired, writing crime bestsellers that rocket to the top of bestseller lists, but Jack hardly spends any time writing in this story - no doubt Ms Ross' secret dream, I'm sure, that she is even now trying to live out: crap out books in your sleep, and see them sell, wee! - still, Jack also spends time renovating his big, antique house.

After all, it's always about a damned house, isn't it?

Oh, Jack and Dani? They go way back, when he's the Harlequin Bad Boy and she's the Silhouette Dumb Virgin Poster Girl.

Dani becomes a librarian. Or is it schoolteacher? I forgot. Actually, I can't be bothered to care. All I know is that it's something "maternal", something Republican wives do in their free time that involves kids, self-pity, rescue fantasies, and whining, lots of whining.

Of course, we have a kind neighbor who pampers and awwws over useless Dani and her unfortunate son, but everyone else in town just hates Dani and son, so they burn her apartment down and do other nasty, heinous stuff to the two. Hey, can I join the fun? If clichés come live next door to me, I'll happily sign the petition to send them packing.

Did I mention Dani's father? A control freak?

Did I mention Jack's Baggages? His Hurt? His torment that can be soothed only by taking care of a ridiculously whiny and codependent dingbat?

If there's any chemistry between Jack and Dani, it's the chemistry of an explosively dull reaction between too many clichés, yet another sad, dumb, passive heroine needing an authority figure in her life, and other fun stuff marked "Clichés to Brain Your IQ".

Pardon the bad pun, but yes, I'm quite blue by Blue Bayou. It's not bad, it's just too effective in inducing the boredom-driven snoozes. It's the same old song, the same old blues, and the same old dreary feeling of being trapped in the same old freaking story that will never, ever end - argh. And this book is part of a trilogy. Oh boy.

Rating: 50

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