Zebra, $6.99, ISBN 0-8217-6798-4
Paranormal Romantic Suspense, 2001
Ah, those wholesome small-town values! Where good women serve and clean and launder and just shut up – these are the women we all aspire to be, not those sexually active, vocal, and most offensive of all, beautiful women whom we keep our eyes averted as our men cheat on us with them. Men, after all, have their urges. They can’t help themselves. Good women make excuses for their men. Our lot, after all, is solely behind and under our men.
Welcome to the jolly fun world of Kat Martin’s The Secret.
Actually I wouldn’t be so hard on this book – it’s a standard city-gal-goes-back-to-her-hometown-roots affair with a touch of murder mystery – if the hero weren’t such a jerk and if this book weren’t so flippant and sexist in its treatment of the other woman. My condolences to Rachael, the Other Woman, who is wronged by this bastard without any compensation.
Kate Rollins experiences a near-death experience after she is shot in the head. When she recovers, she decides to live life a new attitude. “New attitude” means going back to old country hometown with her stereotypical “troubled” teenage son. Like all other stories of this ilk, there’s always a lovely shack a-waitin’ for our heroine. There’s also a cutesy job – Kate opens the local eatery with her yummy home-cooked meals. And a hunky cowboy neighbor, Chance McLain, who looks like an Indian, I’m told, but is much yummier than any Indians around (hmm, not very PC of the author, I must say). Chance has an Indian best friend, whom I’m told isn’t as handsome and sexy as him (I’m not joking), and who dispenses sterling insights like “Oh, you love her!” to Chance.
There’s a murder to give this story a much needed kick late into it, but the main part of the story is small town propaganda. Chance has a girlfriend, who is a – gasp! – model who prefers the – eeuw – sinful neon lights of New York. Chance likes Kate better – she has D-cup breasts (I know, because the author tells me so… again and again and again) and also, Kate has no dreams or aspirations to do anything but cook, wash, and launder. So what does Chance do? Sleep with Kate, all the while intending to marry poor model Rachael. Poor dear Rachael, whose only flaw is that her breasts are smaller than Kate’s and she prefers NYC to Lost Peak, Montana.
There’s no reason why Chance doesn’t sleep with both Rachael and Kate at the same time. He’s already a jerk for sleeping with Kate while obligated to Rachael. He still wants to marry Rachael by the late third of the story. Come on, give us some skanky ho sex – it’s not as if Chance’s personality can’t sink any lower. But no, Chance wants to “wait for the right moment” to boink Rachael after he has boinked Kate. I don’t think this man is very smart either.
And Kate, oh Kate. She is hounded by tabloid reporters who can’t get enough of her “near-death” story. Maybe Elvis is on strike. And her greatest fear is Chance turning away from her because, oh, he will think her a nutcase if he knows. So on one hand this woman says that her near-death experience is wonderful as it changes her life, then on the other hand she treats it like a sign of her going loony. Which is which? Wait, I don’t particularly care. Kate has as much personality as a wet dishrag. She aims to please everyone. Her sole self-esteem comes from knowing that people aren’t thinking the worst of her. She sees Chance and – wham! She’s in love. Good thing she doesn’t know what’s going on in his mind as he gives her the cowboy whopper. Pity I have to know.
So the story goes. I’m sure Kate will be happy cleaning and laundering and playing the good doormat wife to Chance, whom I hope for Kate’s sake, will never see any woman with size DD breasts. The man doesn’t respect his obligations to Rachael, and I don’t see why he would honor his wedding vows to Kate. This book, however, tells me that Rachael doesn’t play house, clean, or be a martyr, so she’s an unworthy wife material. Not like St Kate who suffers, endures, and smiles when people pat her in the head for being such a good labrador.
Excuse me, I think I need to go throw up.