The Nerd Who Loved Me
by Vicki Lewis Thompson, contemporary (2004)
St Martin's Press, $6.99, ISBN 0-312-99856-2

Not that I like to blow my own trumpet or anything, I like to think of myself as a connoisseur of nerds. Hey, that sounds so much more avant garde than "I am someone who was a nerd-ette when I was young and all I had was nerd boyfriends until I married my nerd husband, who is cute and all, but a nerd nonetheless". So I like to imagine that I know what I am talking about when I say that the hero of this story is not a nerd. There are cute guys in glasses and there are nerds. Both are adorable but let's not pretend that they are interchangeable, shall we?

Okay, with that done with, what else do I have to say about the newly Ripa-ed Ms Thompson's latest Nerd book? Nothing much that is good, actually. This book has very little romance, mostly sex (and not very hot sex at that) and plenty of farce involving retired showgirls who still think they are sexy, dumb villains, more zany old people, more sex, zany old people kicking dumb villains' butts, and a few painfully obvious tacked-on arguments and misunderstandings passed off as "conflict".

Set in Vegas, the land of Celine Dions and Siegfrieds and Roys, the heroine, the dancer Lainie Terrell, sashays herself on stage like a firecracker. But since she is a romance heroine, she's a nice gal and she has even gone for years without sex. She has a four year old genius kid Dexter which is the prime reason why she isn't having sex. Whenever Dexter opens his mouth, I start screaming, "Omigod, kill it, somebody please kill it!" It's instinctive on my part. I wonder why. One day, she ropes in the accountant Harry Ambrewster to babysit Dexter while she lights up the stage by shaking her celibate booty at horny tattooed fat Republican male gun-totting gamblers in the audience. Harry and Dexter have their male bonding interrupted by the appearance of Lainie's unwanted ex (and Dexter's father). Harry, who underneath his glasses and supposedly-shy exterior is some super kick-ass muscular Abercrombie and Fitch pretty boy, gives Joey Benjamin the slip, takes Dexter to his mother Rona's place, and drags Lainie into a madcap adventure.

Many of the plot points in this book are over-the-top but unfortunately too obvious to be funny and too crude to work. Rona and her dotty old lady friends call themselves Temptresses In Temporary Suspension or TITS. This gives rise to plenty of cringe-inducing jokes about tits that really should have died along with Dolly Parton's mainstream chart success. Dumb gangsters are another overdone gag and Ms Thompson doesn't display any innovative attempts to make this Joey any different from the countless Joeys, Marios, and Luigis that have run amok in Vegas in other romance novels set in Vegas. The author's wordplay is more awkward or unintentionally amusing rather than actually amusing in the way she intends it to be. This book provides a new context to use the word "baptize" - use your imagination - but instead of making me laugh, I actually cringe at how inept that attempt at raunchy humor is.

Along the way, the author doesn't introduce any character development in Lainie or Harry. He is shy, she is a single mother who is hot. He likes hot women but finds them boring and he likes smart women but finds them ugly. The fact that Ms Thompson manages to make Harry charming in a one-dimensional naked hunk centerfold with a smiley face covering his pee-wee way despite his awfully sexist way of looking at women speaks volumes about how she may come up with a decent story if she puts her heart into fleshing out her characters. Instead, all Lainie and Harry do is to have sex in every possible manner at every possible moment. Everything else is the TITS acting crazy or Joey acting stupid or the world going mad with Harry and Lainie just reacting to them long enough before resuming their boinkathon. Adding to the irritant factor is Lainie's insistence that she can't love the rich, handsome, sensitive, talented, sex guru Harry because... er, she just can't! Shoot her, somebody. Oh, and yes, please kill Dexter as well. Kill it!

No decent conflict, no characterization, no romance but just juvenile sex scenes instead, no decent humor, The Nerd Who Loved Me is like the loud-mouthed party guest who always laughed the loudest to her own jokes because she thinks she is so funny and she needs the world to hear her laugh to reaffirm her own belief. Readers looking for non-stop madcap adventures involving Grannies Gone Gonzos and other overused Evanovichian gags may have a better time with this book. Even so, I can't help thinking that Colleen Collins' madcap Vegas adventure Right Groom, Wrong Chapel will make a so much better read. That one is zany, over-the-top, but the playboy hero and the showgirl heroine have a decent romance going and they don't come off as throbbing genitalia with yellow smilie faces drawn at strategic spots for Ms Thompson to pass them off as people in this particular book. This particular Nerd book is quite a, er, thud of a dud.

Rating: 49

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