Arabesque, $6.99, ISBN 1-58314-346-7
Contemporary Romance, 2003
Louré Bussey seems to be laboring under this delusion that misogyny and psychotic villains (of which most are females) are enough to pad up her flimsy and plot-less stories. If Loving You Is Wrong is so wrong that I really don’t know where to start. So many stupid things to shred apart, so little time, et cetera.
Simi Mitchell is a heroine with a rabid nasty ex. I have no idea why she can actually marry that kind of man, but she’s Aristotle compared to the hero (more later). A screenwriter, she’s trying to pitch her work to award-winning director Jackson Larimore and soon they are falling for each other. But Jackson was involved for four years with the bitch Nicole and Nicole is not going to take this dumping without a fight. Meanwhile, Simi’s ex wants a piece of the stupid pie as well, and the later half of the book is riddled with so many stupid cat fights and bitch fights that it’s like Dr Moreau’s Island Party in here.
Let me start by mentioning how repetitious Simi and Jackson are. The first half of the book is nothing more than a cycle of coitus interruptus. She will say that she cannot sleep with a man she’s selling her script to or with any man, come to think of it, but oh, what a handsome man (insert tedious descriptions of Jackson’s body here). Then Jackson will come over or she will meet him for some contrived reason, they will come this close to doing it, and then she breaks them apart. Repeat with Simi’s saying that she cannot sleep with Jackson, bringing up the same reasons, and then has her describing Jackson’s physique – the same freaking thing – again. Then has him coming over with the charming pick-up line, “I need to give you something. It’s big. You’re gonna love it.” Have her open the door, have them nearly have sex, have her moan, repeat, rinse. Then when they are having sex, finally, that’s when the evil skanks start causing trouble to break the monotony. Because if these skank antics don’t happen, our hero and our heroine will probably never stop having sex.
I wonder if Ms Bussey ever consider the ramifications on her own characters when she has them being plagued by their evil exes. Is she aware that Jackson come off like a brain-damaged idiot for being involved with Nicole for four years? It takes only fifty pages before Ms Bussey starts demonizing Nicole: Nicole faked her pregnancy to trap Jackson into marriage, none of the Jackson clan likes Nicole, Nicole is fake, Nicole is shallow, et cetera. But it reflects worse on Jackson for sleeping with this woman for four years when he and his whole family know what a cardboard villain Nicole is. And of course, Ms Bussey seems unaware of how bad Jackson comes off as when he’s already sleeping with Simi within a few weeks after he’s put his relationship with Nicole on a hiatus. Maybe in Bussey Land, it’s okay for a man to start playing around and declaring that he “loves” a woman a few weeks after putting his relationship with another woman on hold as long as the latter woman is depicted in the worst possible light ever.
But seriously, I wonder sometimes whether Ms Bussey is even thinking when she is writing this story. Like, for example, her having Jackson’s family letting Nicole into the house and up to the bedroom where Jackson and Simi are having sex. Hello? Anybody home? Any excuse for women bitchslapping each other, it seems, is the top priority in this book, damn logic, damn everything else. And then there’s the stupid attempt at mystery where Simi’s ex is killed and Simi is the prime suspect. Why even bother? In this book, every woman outside Jackson’s family that isn’t the heroine is portrayed as a scheming slut, and Ms Bussey doesn’t even try to stop her train from derailing right into the chasm of misogyny with the identity of this villain.
A badly plotted book is one thing. But If Loving You Is Wrong is not just badly plotted, it is shockingly thick in its contempt for women while letting the hero get away with some really stupid crap here. There are also misunderstandings galore. Nothing makes sense in this book and nothing is remotely palatable. As a horrific trainwreck of a story fueled by misogyny and the antics of stupid yet nasty exes, this one is so completely wrong in so many ways, I really won’t even pretend to understand half of the things that went into the creation process of this book.