Saturday, July 7, 2012
Review: Summer Nights
As amazing as I know this is going to sound, I've never read Susan Mallery before. Despite the fact that she's written somewhere in the ballpark of 761 books and despite the fact that she has a huge category backlist. She's also quite popular among library readers. So when I was approached to review Summer Nights, the eighth book in her Fool's Gold series, I said yes. Certainly it had a little something to do with the librarian heroine, but also because I wanted to see what the fuss was about.
Annabelle Weiss is the librarian in Fool's Gold and very short (which Mallery reminds us of over and over and over again....). She also needs to learn to ride a horse oh, and to make said horse "dance." Annabelle needs a bookmobile, which is going to cost money, which means it's time for a fundraiser. She thinks the way to do this is to reenact some horse-dancing ritual thing that the native Maa-zib women performed for some town parade. She goes to new guy in town Shane Stryker (seriously?) to teach her.
Shane has met Annabelle already, sort of. He saw her dancing on the bar at the local watering hole (which apparently only women go to and the men avoid - see my eyes rolling back in my head) and naturally has pegged her as being exactly like his traitorous slut of an ex-wife (yeah, we all know where this is going). He wants a nice, boring, quiet woman and his mother suggests the town librarian, who is a very nice girl dontcha know. Then he meets Annabelle, sees that his bar dancin' wild woman is also the town librarian and his world goes topsy turvy.
Books like Summer Nights are the reason I have such a hard time with single title contemporaries. I was literally destroying this with my mental red pen the entire time I was reading it. It's fat, it's bloated, it's crammed so full of unnecessary, mind-numbing secondary characters that my eyes started to bleed. This series centers around the town of Fool's Gold and apparently that means everybody who lives in the town must pop up on page, not doing a damn thing to further along the course of the romance - which is really what we're here for, right? I don't know these people. I don't care about these people. I should be caring about Shane and Annabelle and wanting their romance to get off the ground - and instead I'm reading about Shane's mother's pet elephant and how the elephant is lonely and needs friends and oh look she's made friends with a pony and Shane hates ponies and gee, isn't that like the cutest thing ever?
No! I don't care! No, no, no! Romance! Annabelle! Shane! Falling in love! That's what I care about! Where is that?!?!?!
Sorry, where were we? Oh yeah, Series-itis Hell.
That's not to say I was ever lost, or confused, or didn't know what was going on. No, Mallery brings me up to speed. It's just all these people don't matter. I'm sorry series fans, they don't. They've had their moment in the sun, or else their moment is coming in book number whatever, and this is now Annabelle's and Shane's time. Which means the less time spent on them, the less I believe in the romance. Which is a problem because Shane's inability to trust Annabelle, even though she does absolutely nothing to warrant his misgivings, make this romance a dead duck from the word go. Why Annabelle keeps sticking around is beyond me.
Oh yeah, the bookmobile. Politicians, this is what happens when you cut library funding. Librarians have to resort to hanging around cowboys (albeit hunky ones) who compare them to their slutty ex-wives. Dude. Here at the Bat Cave we love us some cowboys, but even we're not willing to hang out with asshole cowboys.
On the bright side? Mallery manages to hit all the right librarian notes. I've worked in both rural and urban libraries, and the small town librarian depiction is a fairly solid one. I also liked that Annabelle is divorced, not uptight, and isn't a walking librarian stereotype. All very good things.
So where does that leave us? With sweeping statements. If you're a fan of this series, you're probably not reading this review, nor do you give a flying fig what I think. You're juiced in, you're hooked, and more power to you. We all have series we love, and if this is yours - enjoy it in in good health. However if you're over small town romances and find your eyes crossing at the very thought of another series? Yeah, this is unlikely to make you see the error of your ways. As for me, when I wasn't bored silly, I was annoyed. Two emotions I really don't like to experience when I'm reading a book.
Grade = D