Thursday, March 20, 2008

I Think There's A Pill For That

I'm working on a bit of a project at the moment, so for the next month I hope to get through some of my obscene backlog of Harlequin SuperRomances. First on the chopping block is Make-Believe Cowboy by Terry McLaughlin, the first in her Bright Lights, Big Sky trilogy, from 2006.

Ellie Harrison is a young widow now running the ranch of her adopted family. She's a single mom to 12-year-old Jody and trying to pay the bills so her and her mother-in-law, Jenna, don't get thrown out on their ear. As a way to make some extra cash, Ellie agrees to let a movie shoot on her property. Arriving on her doorstep is Fitz Kelleran, Hollywood heart-throb, world-class charmer, and the guy who's starlet girlfriend just dumped him on The Tonight Show.

What follows is an interesting blend of fantasy and reality. The Hollywood actor who falls in love with the normal, everyday, "nobody" woman. This storyline can work. Heck, it has worked - that's why authors keep writing it. Unfortunately, in this instance, it's a little uneven.

This is the first book in a trilogy, and while I liked almost all of them, there are quite a few secondary characters here. There are also a couple of secondary story lines going on - namely Fitz's desire to shoot a remake of The Virginian and a romance between Jenna and a younger ranch hand. It pulls some focus away from the primary romance, which probably could have used the added attention.

What we have here is a good old fashioned adversarial romance, and it just didn't work for me, because half the time I couldn't figure out why the heroine didn't just pull the stick out of her ass butt. I think the author was shooting for "sexy banter" between Fitz and Ellie - but honestly, half the time I didn't understand why Ellie was so darn uptight. Now, there are moments where she isn't annoying, and it's those moments where the romance really worked for me. Unfortunately Ellie must have a serious problem with PMS, because she suffers from mood swings for this entire story - thus resulting in my conflicted feelings about her. One moment I liked her, and the next I couldn't figure out why Fitz was even bothering. Case in point, the ending - where Ellie asks Fitz for help, he gives it, then she gets mad at him for it. Geez.

So it's kind of a mixed bag here. I liked the secondary characters. I liked Fitz. But Ellie? Meh. Which places this firmly on my average scale. Not sorry I read it, not sorry I have more books by this author in my TBR, but not "suffering" from good book afterglow either.

Final Grade = C+

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