Pat Simmons, $0.99
Contemporary Romance, 2011
The theme for the TBR Review Challenge this time around is “Dressed for Success”, so I figure that a story about a heroine whose dress leads her to romance can be considered fitting for the theme. Hence, Pat Simmons’s Her Dress. Sure, it’s also a Christian romance, but hey, I relate very well to enlightened and spiritual people, so what can go wrong?
The heroine, Pepper Trudeau.
She shows up at the Children Are Our Future Scholarship dinner soiree in a gorgeous dress that cost her quite a bit, only to realize, to her dismay, that there is another guest in the exact same dress. That guest is some fair-skinned lady from a well-to-do family, to boot, and she makes Pepper feel like a heifer in a dress. Never mind that our heroine is often described to be tall and hot, Pepper will insist that she’s pug-butt ugly and then becomes outraged and holds a grudge when one agrees with her.
This guest is nice and polite to Pepper, but our very Christian heroine only has mean thoughts for her. Later, a handsome guy will woo her, and she will also act outraged and treat her like crap, mostly because she believes that he must be having a laugh at her expense.
That’s the entire problem I have with this story in a nutshell. Her Dress is marketed as a Christian romance about self-awareness and coming to terms with one’s true self, but what it actually is, is a tedious tale of an unlikable heroine demanding validation from everyone around her, while treating them badly in the process.
I may have less of a problem with Pepper if she truly deviated from one’s idea of conventional beauty, as self-esteem issues or years of being a target of snide remarks would explain her prickly behavior well. No, instead, Pepper is tall, gorgeous, super hot, super sexy in a way that is approved by Jesus, and more—hence, she coming off as an insufferable hag as a result. Our heroine also contradicts herself a lot. Early on, she claims that she has never met any man whose faith in God is at a threshold that meets her approval, so she dates only guys from her church. Later, she will say that she has never dated any guy outside of her church in the first place—a statement that makes her initial declaration that only church men could meet her standards as one born from her own close-minded nature than actual experience.
On the bright side, the author has a lively, bouncy narrative style, which makes this story far more readable than it otherwise would have been. Still, the heroine just won’t go away.
By the time this story limps to its miserable end, Pepper has shown that she is a judgmental hag with a tendency to be unkind and to jump to the most wrong conclusions, while proclaiming that everyone around her is somehow morally inferior in some way. Oh, how nice this one gets the guy in the end.
For a Christian romance, this one sure knows how to whip up some un-Christian feelings in me, that’s for sure!