MIRA, $5.99, ISBN 1-55166-827-0
Contemporary Romance, 2001
Curtiss Ann Matlock’s Cold Tea on A Hot Day is all about life’s little pleasures. Patriotic, wholesome neighbors in a perfect, beautiful small town called Valentine. Everyone loves you, your kids, your house, your job, and as for money problems, no such thing here, baby. And to top it off, everyone’s a health nut in Valentine. If you want escape from the current turmoil in the world, this book’s your book. If you have trouble sleeping, this book is also your book.
Slower than slow, the story starts with Marilee James searching everywhere for her – what’s the PC term? – special-needs son. No, wait, before that, someone died and left a dog, and the dog Munro finds Willie Lee, the missing boy. Then comes Tate Holloway, who is taking over the local newspaper, and he finds Willie Lee sleeping in the porch of his new house. Then Marilee, Willie Lee, and Tate say hi. Then they talk about life. Then Marilee sees that young lady in her newspaper office (the same one Tate is taking over) do a Reba McEntire impersonation. Then it’s yummy home-made dinner – I bet there’s an apple pie somewhere. Then look, it’s the next day and zzz…
Between Marilee, Willie Lee, and everything hee-hee, there is enough warm contemporary American pie here to either create a violent allergic reaction or to make one go “Awww”. Tate thinks Marilee’s the one, and Marilee isn’t sure. Look, she’s engaged, oops. The pace of this story just drags and the writing seems choppy and rushed in places too. But there are some great scenes of small-town life, which make great reading if they are in anecdote form, but in a 440-paged novel, everything just seems to be meandering everywhere.
Look, Willie Lee eats ice-cream. Awww. Old people act cute and cuddly. Ooh. Tate and Marilee cuddle. Aaah. But there’s so much “Oooh”ing and “Aaah”ing I can take before getting lockjaw.
A little bit of speed and a little less of people just standing there and admiring the scenery could’ve made Cold Tea on a Hot Day a much more enjoyable piece of escapism. As it is, I find it a real test of my patience whenever I try reading more than a few chapters at one go. But at the same time, these people are so happy admiring the scenery that I feel guilty for wanting to harass them to walk faster, talk faster, just do something, dang it. I know, I’m an impatient old fusspot. Still, even I know that this is a nice, warm story. If taken in small doses at a time, that is.