Warner, $6.99, ISBN 0-446-61209-X
Historical Romance, 2002
Dorothy Garlock’s Prohibition-era story High on a Hill seems to operate that not only are the characters forbidden to drink, they are forbidden to be interesting as well. A ten ton weight on each of my eyelids can’t compare to the snore-inducing effect of reading this book. The hero is flat, the heroine is flatter, and the story is the flattest.
Annabel Lee Donovan is a Care Bear Loves Everybody type of heroine who is innocent, sweet, childish, passive, useless, prone to burst into inconvenient cases of nerves at the most inexplicable moments, and often dim-witted as well. She’s described and treated like a child or a “special” grown-up (if you know what I mean), and alas, she comes off as either one of the two at any one time. She spends the whole book taking in sick kiddies, worrying over Daddy, worrying over the hero, and getting all guilt-ridden because she can’t embrace the world in her warm sheltering embrace and make everybody and Daddy understand that she doesn’t need money, all she needs is love to be happy. Her daddy is a bootlegger, her protective old coot daddy figure is Daddy’s assistant, and she is so unhappy because her money comes from a bad, bad source. In this book, everybody loves Annabelle, except for the villains, naturally.
While she is taking in a sick kid, our hero Corbin Appleby is looking for a runaway (hmm). Our hero sees our heroine and bam! Love at first sight. This causes the men that protect Poor Innocent Bel-Belle from the evil, cruel world to quickly form a cocoon around her as they eye the hero suspiciously. As for Bel-Belle, duh. Of course it’s love.
Bel-Belle is dull because she’s flat in her lifeless girly perfection. She’s not a character, she’s that annoying little angel kid found on greeting cards or china teacups catering to the family-values-Kinkade-Touched-By-An-Angel obsessed crowd. Corbin is a one-dimensional stock lawman guy. Every other character is a stereotype – the downtrodden woman, the hick, the loony bin, the “eccentric” and negligent father, the protective friend, et cetera, all speaking in various accents and dialects straight out of Ghetto Central 101. Strangely enough, our hero and heroine speaks perfect English, the last one the most bizarre because her father speaks like a stereotypical Irish redneck. It’s a pity – hearing the heroine hiccup through her orgasms (“Ya, ya! Gimme da big un, honney ya big goiy you, who’s da big un, yaaaaa!”) will provide some much-needed humor in this story.
The flat main characters are one thing, but the plot seems to be stuck in a standstill for the first two-third of this book. Watch as Bel-Belle save sick kids! Watch as Corbin watch in besotted fascination as Bel-Belle walks around the place, bestowing her pure and innocent smile on everybody in the story! Ya, ya, I’m falling asleep, ya.
With flat characters and a plot that doesn’t go anywhere for too long, High on a Hill leaves me stranded high and dry with no satisfaction in sight.