St Martin’s Press, $6.99, ISBN 0-312-98327-1
Contemporary Romance, 2002
This is an expanded edition of the 1989 book published under the pseudonym Steffie Hall. Janet Evanovich, playing Dr Evil-novich in a plot that will make Austin Powers shudder, ropes in her Number Two, Charlotte “Char Charlussina” Hughes, to expand this book. Since Char Charlussina’s name isn’t on the credits of the US edition, so to speak, nor on the copyright statement (only a photo of her posing with her evil mentor), I wonder what exactly poor Ms Charlussina did in the recreation of this book. Maybe she just takes Dr Evil-novich’s dictation? Okay, I’m just kidding, lawyers. Don’t get your litigation panties in a bunch.
Now, for a short series format, the original Full House (which I haven’t read) may be alright for a short, pleasant diversion. It’s about Ms Stereotype here, Billie Pearce (divorced, lousy ex), taking polo lessons under horse stud Nick Kaharchek and soon taking lessons of other sorts under him. He too is Mr Stereotype, being a fast and loose playboy who finds plain but sassy Billie a far cry from experienced women who would, to quote Sarah Michelle Gellar, “let him put it everywhere” or something. In short, the inexperienced pure thing’s better. Only in romance novels, I’m sure.
Dr Evil-novich and Char Charlussina here have expanded this book. What does that mean? Make the romance meatier? Give Billie and Nick some depths to make them more memorable, more human? Get rid of that annoying Experienced Shallow Slut foil? Do some damage control by making Billie’s ex less of a caricature?
Are you kidding? Where do you think we live in? Utopia? This is Calcutta, buddy, money at the shortest time rules.
So what we have in Full House, 2002 version, is a long list of eccentrics that seem to have come out of the reject genetic garbage bin (or a Plum full-dress-up and in-role convention, if I want to be mean and evil). There’s a wrestling match fiasco, a series of bizarre dates arranged for Billie by the cosmetically hypochondriac sister of Nick staying at Billie’s place (don’t ask), and other cast members that parade in and out of chapters, contributing to nothing but the bizarre quotient. There are many references to today’s popular culture, such as Buffy and Spike, but I suspect only the die-hard Evil-novich groupies who also happened to die-hard Buffy fans (you know who you are, the one that actually went into mourning when Tara died and sent Joss Whedon voodoo dolls with needles poked through the eyes even as you write fanfictions of James Marsters stealing Sarah Michelle Gellar from Freddie Prinze, Jr because you can’t separate Buffy/Spike from Gellar/Marsters – yes, you!) would get excited over that one.
Frankly, this book isn’t worth any cent of the $6.99 cover price. It’s even more insulting that in this case, “expansion” doesn’t mean “improvement”, just stretching the chewing gum plot even more until it finally snaps. A contrived “let’s pretend we’re in love but we really are in love plot” is one thing, but when we factor in an assortment of weirdos that do nothing but to take up space, this baby sinks like a rock. Strictly for die-hard fans or readers who is just looking for something short and breezy to pass the time.