LoveSpell, $6.99, ISBN 0-505-52652-2
Paranormal Romance, 2006
For a book with such a title and premise, The Phantom of the Bathtub is a shockingly dull read.
Viveca Stanhope, hoping to get away from a considerable amount unpleasantness she left behind in San Francisco, brings what little she has left to Savannah, Georgia. The first she learns upon reaching her new home is that her new house is in such a terrible condition that detonating it to smithereens will be an act of mercy. The house is a former executioner’s place (it comes with an attached wing that used to be a jail), there is a tree nearby used to hang people – just right there, near the cemetery, and… did anyone mention that the house is haunted? Especially the bathtub? Well, Viveca learns all that now that it’s too late to do anything, much to her exasperation.
The house also comes with three servants whose charming attempts at patois will either amuse or irritate you (I’m more of the “I don’t care, they are annoying even if they don’t speak” camp) as a neighbor, Maxwell Beecher who will vex and thrill Viveca to no end. Viveca’s past will catch up with them, if the ghost isn’t enough for her to handle.
The problem I have with this book is that it is not funny. Viveca is actually a pretty sensible heroine with a wry sense of humor, but Ms Riley proceeds to make all the “jokes” and “comedy” in this story to be where Viveca is made a fool again and again that I can’t say I’m even halfway amused. Max is a contradictory character that it is almost amusing how the author did such a terrible job in portraying him. Max is the kind of guy who just cannot give a straight answer in this story whenever Viveca tries to get him to tell her something. Every word that comes out of his mouth is designed to mock Viveca and make her come off like a fool, so imagine my surprise when I’m told that he loves her. He could have fooled me, I tell you, given how he treats the dirt stuck at the soles of his shoes with more respect. The secondary characters and the ghost, like Max, have their roles to play – to thwart and frustrate Viveca again and again until she’s flailing helplessly in exasperation and I’m supposed to laugh because this is supposed to comedy.
I don’t find this story funny. I find the author’s comedy routine repetitious, in fact, and the secondary characters as well as the hero go too far in being mere props in the tedious comedy that when the author attempts to pass the hero off as a character, I’m not buying it. I strongly suggest you give this one a miss if you believe that you will find the portrayal of the darker-skinned characters in this story offensive because these are the ones running around being lazy, creepy, or speaking in patois.
The Phantom of the Bathtub is a tedious showcase of the author’s brand of unfunny comedy rather than an even halfway decent romance. I’d say, let’s just flush this one down.