Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-80519-7
Contemporary Romance, 1999
What is it about a straight-laced, emotionally distant prim-and-proper man in a business suit that challenges a woman? You know, the sort of challenge to conquer, strip off that suit and all that proper gentlemanly nonsense, and make that man see life as what it is. To make him laugh. To make him love. In fiction, prim and proper workaholics are like latent firecrackers. You light the right fuse and Ka-BOOM! You’ll drown in his explosion of technicolored passion.
Where was I? Oh yes, Pillow Talk.
Parker Ponthier dislikes Margaret “Call Me Meg” McKenzie Cooper at first sight. He finds her in an expensive hotel suite in New Orleans, the room where his recently-deceased brother usually brought his ladyloves. So naturally Parker assumes that Margaret… sorry, Meg is his brother Jules’s newest mistress (bear with me, we’ll throw stones later). He offers to pay her off, but oops, she turns out to be Jules’s wife. Parker immediately assumes she was a gold-digging ho because, let’s face it, she let Jules, supposedly a rehabilitated fellow, get OD on drugs only hours before (like I said, bear with me). Then Parker drags Maggie… sorry, Meg along to meet the wealthy Ponthier family, never a more malicious herd of snobs since Alexis Carrington-and-a-million-last-names in Dynasty held the throne.
Are you bewildered yet? I sure am during the first few chapters. Things happened so fast in just a few chapters. I have to pause, take a deep breath, go out for some fresh air, then reread the beginning chapters slowly… to… get… all… those… details… pouring out at me like water gushing forth a broken dam.
It doesn’t help that the book had this soap opera feel about it. Consider Parker’s really pathetic love life. One woman, right before they get down to a nice session of tonsil tennis and hide-the-salami, actually whips out a legal document that would give her sole custody of any kiddie resulting from their horizontal tango and asks him to sign it! She is a lawyer, you see, she wants kids and Parker wouldn’t commit to a relationship… what happened to the New Orleans sperm bank?
But surprisingly, the book actually became better after this boy Gus comes along. Gus is Jules’s son from a previous marriage, and Meg manages to get Gus to make Parker mellow and thaw. And when he thaws, Parker is amazing. He becomes a cheeky, mischievous man so different from the growly surly bear-bear in the beginning I begin to wonder if someone has switched the book I am reading without me knowing. His reluctant softening was, to me, a pleasure to read.
But what about Meg, you ask? Err… I don’t remember much about Meg really, except that she is unfortunately stock contemporary romance heroine material. She is okay, I guess, a decent character to read about. Her reasons for marrying Jules remains murky to me.
The author’s writing style is as uneven as her storytelling. At times she told too much instead of showing. Sometimes there were brilliant flashes of storytelling genius – Parker’s first ‘family trip’ with Gus and Meg and a dog os a hoot. Such moments, however,are buried under way too many cliches. Like the forgotten protection during sex. And as much as I love dogs, the dog in this book played strictly as dogs in countless Harlequin/Silhouette stories. He and Gus are to act cute, make Parker human, and scram when Uncle Parker and Aunt Meggie wanted to play patty cakes.
Parker, Parker, Parker – he deserves a better book.