Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-8041-2004-8
Contemporary Romance, 2003
Oh dear, was I lamenting about overly-right wing overtones in too many contemporary romance novels I’ve read recently? It just shows that I must be very careful of what I wish for. Laura Moore’s Night Swimming is a tree-hugger romance, but unfortunately, just like how right wing books damn career women, this book damns right wing rednecks with equal impunity. The two main characters acting like silly children just adds two more aspirins to my prescription.
Lily Banyon and Sean McDermott are, like, hate each other since they were kids. I really don’t want to go to their backstory, let’s just say a boy and a girl pulling each other’s hair in the nursery display more maturity than these two children. Seriously, these two are children. Now she’s a Marine Biologist heading a committee to study a reef structure in her hometown, the town where Sean is now the mayor. External conflicts involve right wing redneck trying to destroy Mother Nature.
The moment these two meet, they are immediately baiting and snapping at each other like kids. What happened to adult behavior and common sense? Professionalism? He’s mocking her, she’s shaking inside from anger, he thinks she hates her so he just has to get at her, she must not let him get at her because he’s like, wow, still hot and all while he just wants to squeeze her breasts – he even dreams of doing it – because he heard other males wonder if they’re real. A man who can’t tell the difference between real and fake? What, he just came out from a monastery or something? Every tiny thing sets these two people off, and eventually the din from their adolescent bickerings becomes too much for me. Their romance revolves around a tepid “I scream at you, I hate you – I kiss you, I sleep with you – now I hate you back, and you know what? I hate myself too, YOU FREAK!” merry-go-round. What I wouldn’t give to have these two to just shut up and do me a favor by holding hands and boarding a space shuttle to Pluto forever.
These two get a little quieter during the second half of the book, but their behavior doesn’t improve. Childish deliberate silent treatments, silly misassumptions, childish passive-aggressive games – all these jolly nonsense go on and on. The villains blunder on with the subtlety of tanks crashing down through a shanty town, worsening my headache.
One-dimensional characters displaying mental faculties of dim-witted adolescents and over-the-top cartoonish subplots make Night Swimming a really cold, wet, and unenjoyable experience. It’s like one wanting to be au naturel and so natural with Momma Nature only to strip naked, jump into the sea, and come down with pneumonia the next day. The ending – the heroine telling the hero that she makes a lousy politician’s wife and the hero saying what the heck as long as she’s perfect to him – only seals the whole immature feel to this book. Love may overcome everything in Ms Moore’s world, but it can’t overcome girly writing, over-the-top villains, inept treatment of environmental issues, and characters whose bodies may grow into adulthood but their brains can’t catch up. Like I said, wet, cold, and watch out for pneumonia, hon.