Four Letter Word
‘Fuck’ is the first word that popped into my head when I read the title Four Letter Word. I suspect this was the author’s intention and it’s clever and brilliant. The title captures the attention of the potential reader and invites them to consider which four letter words are implied. I assumed ‘love’ would also be one of those words, and I began reading with the expectation of some ‘fuck’ and eventually some ‘love.’ I found both but also discovered a couple of unexpected four letter words – ‘mess’ and ‘dumb.’ Because Four Letter Word can best be described as a hot mess of a dumb book. The book does have a few sexy love scenes, but these are its only redeemable features.
The hero lead male character, Brian Savage, is a former surfer who now co-owns a surf shop in the small beach town of Dogwood. Sydney Paige just moved to Dogwood after her husband had an affair and asked for a divorce. She is angry with herself for not seeing the signs of her the imminent demise of her marriage and mad at men in general. She’s tired of being a doormat, which prompts her to call her best friend’s ex-boyfriend to verbally annihilate him for being an asshole to her friend. She misdials and unknowingly gets Brian Savage. As Brian answers with an eloquent, “yeah,” Sydney launches into her diatribe with, “Stupid, worthless piece of dog shit.” She doesn’t slow down and realize her mistake until after she’s given Brian an earful of gems like, “Remove the dildo from your mouth and fucking speak!” When Sydney does pause and figure out her mistake, she and Brian sort of laugh and hang up. I wish I had hung up too and stopped reading Four Letter Word after this ridiculous conversation.
While Sydney is mortified over the exchange, Brian has a boner for his mystery caller, who he has nicknamed “Wild” in honor of her apparently wild phone skills. He can’t get her voice out of his mind and reaches back out to her through a text. One text message leads to multiple texts that lead to phone calls. Sydney and Brian are attracted and intrigued, and their calls evolve into phone sex – unsurprising considering Brian’s reaction to their first conversation. Sydney wants to meet Brian in the flesh, but he is hesitant and puts her off. Brian does want to fuck get to know Sydney, but he is afraid she might not like him if she discovers that he is moonlighting as an adult film star. Brian is making porn movies because he needs to make a lot of money quickly for some mysterious reason that J. Daniels implies is altruistic. Brian’s porn career is not why he should be reluctant to meet Sydney – he should be worried that Sydney will realize he’s as dumb as a door.
The existence of Brian’s intelligence received the benefit of my doubt until halfway through the book when I could no longer ignore his obvious lack of substance. He speaks almost exclusively in short, caveman-like sentences that rarely utilize a subject and frequently include the nicknames “Babe” and “Wild.” If he uttered a whole sentence without using pet names every once in a while, I could have considered his toddler-like speech pattern something of an accent, but Brian rarely offers a complete sentence. The reader is treated time and time again to proof of his lack of cerebral development via such eloquent gems as:
“Gone for you fast, Wild.”
“Appreciate you doing this and everything else. Means a lot.”
“Like these shorts, babe.”
“Jesus, babe. Never been sucked this good,”
“Nothing sexier than hearing you, Wild. Nothing, you got me?”
After pages and pages of this, I could not fathom how Sydney or any sane adult woman could possibly find Brian attractive. I gave up hope that he might start using nouns and decided to just try and find some humor to get me through the book.
But I was so distracted by my efforts to turn a (supposed) romance into a comedy that I couldn’t concentrate on the story. Luckily for no one, Four Letter Word does not require reader focus or concentration, because there isn’t much of a plot. The climax revolves around discovering why Brian needs money and how Sydney will react if and when she discovers his adult videos. It shouldn’t be too surprising that the story is simple, because Brian’s character is incapable of comprehending or handling anything more complex than the basics. The love scenes that Sydney and Brian share are the only recommendable parts of Four Letter Word, because Brian’s speech can be forgiven as passionate dialogue and J. Daniels has a talent for writing sex. The only four letter words left with me are ‘hope’ and ‘pray,’ because I sincerely hope and pray that Brian’s character is not based on a real person.