Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-000181-X
Romantic Suspense, 2003
Picture Cait London in a Rick Moranis-style wig, ugly nerd shirt and slacks, and an apron over the nerd uniform, peering out from the kitchen door saying, “Honey, I put in too little seasoning and I, uh, overcooked the book!” and With Her Last Breath is the result of the effort. Filled with repetitive scenes and enough tormented wailings from stereotypical characters auditioning for a Catherine Anderson opera, this book makes me want to cry. When the “suspense” scenes are mostly the villain ranting and foaming while having skanky sex or doing skanky things, this book is not a romantic suspense as much as the romantic suspense bandwagon spills over, killing billions of brain cells.
The heroine Maggie Chantel is tormented. How can she not be tormented? She was nearly raped and her husband sided with her attacker – bye bye marriage – and this attacker also killed her sister Glenda, who actually got hooked on drugs and skanky sex and losing her marriage as a result. Shouldn’t then Glenda be responsible for her own nonsense? Never mind, Maggie is now going to steal the attacker Brent Templeton’s abused dog so that they can run away to live happily ever after together forever. Platonically, of course. My question is, why would any woman hook up with a doggy-abusing, drug-using, physically abusive asshole with a thing for crude and rough skanky sex? The author, in overdoing the skanky villain in a lazy attempt to provide her readers cheap thrills, sacrifices logic in the process.
Anyway, Broom Maggie is now hiding in one of the zillion small towns in some American backwater area where at least two hundred romantic suspense heroines on the run flee to every month. She spies a sexy jogger and decides to trail after the guy slow-motion in her van. Yes, she doesn’t learn. If the jogger takes out a gun and blasts all four wheels of the van that is stalking him, I will laugh. Do you know that “a gnat chile Meg” is an anagram for Maggie Chantel?
The jogger is Nick Alessandro. He is tormented too. He didn’t ask his late wife to wear a helmet when they ride the bike together, and needless to say, the wife and their unborn kid died in the inevitable PSA about road safety. That was twelve years ago. He’s still going on and on about it. I understand the grief and guilt part, but seriously, in twelve years, why doesn’t this man receive at least some grief counselling? He keeps whining and whining about how wifey and fetus got on the magic helmet and flew to heaven, so much so that after a while I feel really annoyed by his grating repetitive whining.
The bulk of this book consists on both characters moaning and wailing about their lives in come circular moan-and-grope as she boards a room above the restaurant ran by his parents. To break the monotony, the villain gnashes his teeth in the midst of skankies to say that he will kill Broom Maggie, he will KILL Broom Maggie, he will KILL Broom Maggie, and yes, he will KILL Broom Maggie, seriously, KILL that bitch, kill, kill, kill! There is a psychic woman who sees death and mayhem (from boredom, maybe), but at the end of the day, this excruciatingly monotonous and inept book is just begging for someone to spring for a plane ticket and transport Mr Kill-Kill-Kill straight to Broom Maggie’s room and cheer as the much-promised killing spree finally comes. Because with Broom Maggie and Nick being nothing more than cardboard cutouts, it is really hard to care when the author relies too much on pedestrian skanky cheap trills to substitute any genuine atmosphere-building and character development.