Leisure, $5.99, ISBN 0-8439-5114-1
Historical Romance, 2002
Welcome, audience, to a sweeping new epic soap opera brought to you by Cindy Holby. It’s a sweeping tale of blushing dim-witted virgins, manly heroes, lots of inability to communicate, and one day in Soap Opera Land feels like thirty-nine episodes in real life!
We start off with Act I, General Horse-pital. Talent horse-whisperer Ian “He’s Untamed Like Wild Horses That Need to Run Free Forever Like the Wind” Duncan loves Faith “I’m Laura, He’s Luke, Where’s My Stavros Cassadine?” Taylor, but evil Randolph “Heeeeere’s Stavros!” Mason doesn’t like it! He forces Faith to marry him! But at the last moment, love saves the day, and our cowboy Luke and Laura run off to the sunset!
They have time to pop out two brats before Stavros shows up and murders Luke and Laura. The world is shocked. The world is horrified. Time to watch a new soap opera. What’s on NBC?
Then it’s All Mare Child’run time. We have the brats Jamie and Jenny tossed into an orphanage where they befriend the obligatory minority character, Chase the Wind. Jenny gets separated, Jamie and Chase try to find her, and everyone ends up in a ranch, where lots of fun stuff happens, like Jamie falling for an older woman while the spoiled gal of the ranch loves Ty who loves Jenny who loves Chase who loves Jamie… hey, wait a freaking minute. But I’m sure things will work out somehow, even if it has to take 5,000 episodes to get there.
Luke and Laura are flat and their story is told in a rushed manner, so it’s no big deal to me when they die. Jenny is a typical dim-witted floss-brained type, Chase is the too-silent can’t-talk exasperating type, and Jamie and Ty… well, it’s so much easier to picture these guys as shirtless Sam Spade, Cameron Mathison, and Josh Duhamel, and trust me, the story becomes more palatable when it’s all about shirtless guys talking and flexing their pecs. Although like too many soap-opera actors, Jamie, Ty, Chase, Randolph, Jenny, heck, everybody here will do much better to try to speak only minimally.
Maybe this book will be so much more interesting in a cheesy way if it has another 300 pages. As it is, the whole “sweeping saga” seems rushed. Indeed, it seems as if there’s too much “sweeping” of plots under the carpet here.
But I love the violence towards the end. I really do, and I actually find Chase in that very penultimate “Die, bastardo, die!” scene sexy as hell. It’s even sexier when I picture a naked Cameron Mathison delivering the powerful coup de grace. Oops, that probably came out as a double meaning thing, but I don’t mean it that way. I mean… never mind. I think I need to lie down and fan myself.
Chase the Wind isn’t too bad for a soap opera, but there’s one reason why successful soap operas just won’t end – you cannot just box cheesy ham under 350 pages. A 700-paged tale of lurid cornball and sexual shenanigans can be seen as a glorious slice of pure cheese melted over a juicy piece of ham. A 350-paged tale of underbaked camp can be too easily misconstrued as a badly-written, badly-paced book.