Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-8041-1989-9
Contemporary Romance, 2003
Heart of Gold is evil. That is the only explanation I have for my actually liking this book so much that I actually read it twice in one sitting. I don’t understand why I like this book. It’s problematic, not least because the author’s writing style is very rudimentary and she tells instead of shows. It’s filled with clichés. And yet I love it so much, I want to read it one more time after I’m done updating this website.
Help me. Hit me in the head with a rubber ducky. The pages of this book must be laced with some drug that seeps into my bloodstreams via the tip of my fingers.
Carter Wessex – the heroine, just to make this clear – is an archaeologist. She has just come back from a long and exhausting dig when her friend brings up a tantalizing mystery at a site for Carter to study: a mystery of missing treasures, long-dead missing Revolutionary war soldiers, ghostly guardians, and an alleged misanthropic rich guy hero Nick Farrell who owns the land she wants to dig up all over. The secondary cast includes Nick’s daughter, Carter’s estranged father deals with Nick much to the dismay and concern of Carter, Nick’s Other Woman, and Carter’s shady assistant, all playing very familiar roles in this story as befit their stereotypical depiction.
Yet, I find myself devouring every word of this story. Nick and Carter talk in very simple and rudimentary lines – Ms Bird writes in very simple sentence structures that can be very annoying at times because her prose can get monotonous – but I love them. I hang on to every word they say and to every action they make because… I don’t know why. They are nothing that I haven’t read before, but I find that there’s an addictive quality to following their developing attraction. I have to keep turning the pages. I have to keep reading. It makes me feel even worse despite my increasing enjoyment because the intellectual (and curmudgeonly) part of me is cringing at the way Carter predictably gets jealous of the Other Woman who rips into Carter for bagging on the ho’s man and so on. This same part of me insists that the characters speak in a too-simple “Me you we talk, make love” style reminiscent of Cassie Edwards in a more gregarious mood. And after much sulking, the devil in me reluctantly confesses that Nick and Carter are actually pretty decent and likable stereotypes who, despite the plethora of clichés the author hangs around their necks, seem to genuinely like and respect each other by the last page.
The sulky old me insists that the author seems unable to build up any scene. She lays everything out – if the characters are happy, she’ll say upfront they’re happy instead of letting the characters’ actions and conversations convey this happiness. Ms Bird’s internal conflict scenes last only two pages maximum – she seems unable to stand seeing her own characters having to confront their issues for too long a time. But the long-dormant Forgive-Them-All Pollyanna in me points out that there is nothing wrong in simplistic linear construction of internal conflicts when the romance is very readable. Besides, Ms Bird is definitely much better in handling external conflicts. The answer to the mystery of the treasure is one that I see coming a mile away, but by that stage of the story, I’m been completely possessed by the spirit of Great-Auntie Pollyanna that I am blubbering happily at the thought that Carter cares so much she doesn’t want to dig and hence disturb the resting places of the dead dummies.
I find this book pretty entertaining despite its very obvious flaws, flaws that I really shouldn’t let the author off the hook for – that is, if she hasn’t done that evil thing she did and made me her weak, weak slave of a reader. Who would’ve thought this book would be so fun? I heartily recommend people to go out and read this book, but at the same time, please don’t tell anyone that I liked this book. In fact, from now on I’m going to swear that this review is not written by me – someone from Romance and Fangirls must have somehow sneaked in and changed the words of this review while I’m not looking. Really. Seriously.
Oh what the heck, go buy this book. Tell me you hate it, though, so that I will at least feel a little better. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go pull down the shades, lock the door, and rest my feet on a cushion. I have a book to read.