Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-050232-0
Contemporary Romance, 2002
An insanely neurotic and frigid heroine, a repulsively slimy hero passed off as romantic, a plot that concentrates too much on the heroine’s brainfree state of sexual repression, and insulting portrayal of women all make Karen Kendall’s I’ve Got You, Babe a potential big hit with Prohibition-era readers, but the trouble is, these readers are probably all dead by now.
It is all I can do not to claw out of eyeballs during the reading of this book. Even if the heroine is frigid, there is no excuse to portray frigids and sluts alike as insane, is there?
Vanessa Tower teaches Art History and she believes herself to be refugee from the 19th century, a 19th century of sexual inhibition that only existed in bad romance authors’ imagination. So she won’t have sex. She will never have sex. If she has sex, she will just DIE. She gets a student, Crash, in her class, who is described as a cross between Harrison Ford and Fabio. I try to imagine how that guy will look like, but all I can see is a freak that makes me scream in horror. Crash is rude, he makes sexual harrassment an art, and the whole thing seems like a bad teacher-student porn set-up. When the lights go off, all the women in Vanessa’s class molest Crash. As if the man’s name isn’t bad enough, the women here have to be classic braindead nymphos too. Because women who are having sex without much whining and protest must be nymphos, I guess – is that right, Ms Kendall?
The plot is this: matchmaking Aunt Eugenie wants Crash to get an A in Vanessa’s class – I guess Crash is trying to do a “Screw His Way to A+” thing – while Vanessa is evaluating his paintings… oh never mind. Everything’s a ridiculous contrivance to get Vanessa screwed anyway.
But once the screwing is done, Vanessa is traumatized that she hears voices calling her a slut everywhere, everyday! Unless Ms Kendall was actually an author from 1920s and Avon is publishing her book posthumously, there is just no excuse for such nonsense in a contemporary novel, unless I’m actually supposed to laugh maliciously at this heroine’s descend into insanity.
I appreciate that this book doesn’t shy away from the troubles arising from a teacher sleeping with a student, but by the time this problem arises, the author’s really inept notion of romantic comedy makes this problem more like another attempt to punish Vanessa for having sex.
Maybe some readers – perhaps you can bury this book in your great-gran’s grave site – can better appreciate such insulting portrayal of women and the ridiculous over-the-top humor that more than one crosses the line into outright hysteria. But for me, I’ve Got You, Babe is too much of an insulting read, and I wonder if Ms Kendall is aware of how much a misogynist this book can paint her as. Maybe it’s time to stop trying too hard and work on some plotting and characterization before putting song titles on your book and passing the book off as finest romantic “I’d rather shove my head in a filled air bag” comedy.