by Sharon Sala, contemporary (2002, 1994 reissue)
Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-108197-3

Interesting cover. It has a woman holding a mop and wearing a crown at the same time. The empowerment of housewives? But this story is about 29-year old Queen Houston, who leaves behind a life of taking care of everybody to find herself, only to learn that taking care of a 42-year old man and his three kids is what she is meant to do. Somehow, as the congregation of the Keep Our Women In The Kitchen Movement break into a loud "Hallelujah!", I don't find the whole queen-doing-the-mopping thing that empowering anymore.

Queen is one of the three Houston sisters (the others are Diamond and Lucky). Now that they have gotten rid of their daddy's house, Queenie now takes a bus out of town to see the world or something. That leads her to a new stint as a housekeeper/sex buddy for ex-Army dude Cody Bonner and nanny/supermom to his three kids (TJ, Will, Donny - all sounding like the Olsen twins when they ramble into those "emotional crybaby scenes" at the drop of the coin, and oh, with names like that, Daddy Cody got only himself to blame if the kids grow up to be heroes in bad Harlequin Romance romances). Alas, Cody's enemy from the past will soon kidnap Queen and threaten murder and mayhem. I'll tell you now so that you won't be blindsided like I was when the author pulls this Coincidental Villain out of the blue on me halfway through Queen.

Queen is a decent, predictable woman-and-kitchen smalltown yarn that won't cause chest pains in me (it won't keep me from dropping this book for the half-naked men on Survivor Marquesas on TV either). The suspense bit is a bit off, but who cares? Queen aims straight for the mediocrity bullseye, and dang if it isn't right on target. In fact, it will probably fall off my radar completely, right after I finish the last word in this review.

Rating: 61

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