Lois Lane Tells All
Grade : D+

The problem with aiming for cute and missing is that you land in annoying. That is exactly what happened with this book about octogenarian crime fighters, a Lois Lane wannabe, and the town that finds them amusing.

Susan Collins had dreamed of being a Lois Lane style reporter since reading her first Superman comic. Saving the day (and writing the story about it!) with the help of her very own Clark Kent is what she longs for. Now that she has become editor of "The Glory Examiner" she feels she is close to living her dream. All that stands in her way is Mark Tremayne, brother to the Examiner's owner and an evil accountant determined to put the paper into the black. He's got Clark's shy demeanor and Superman's bod - is she the woman to bring out his inner reporter?

Mark Tremayne, for his part, has seen his sister suffer a lot in the last year. Being cheated on by her ex-husband and later held hostage by a criminal would have been bad enough. But also having to take care of the most cantankerous woman in Glory, NC (their mother) took plenty out of a woman. He just wants to leave Roxie financially stable before heading back to his firm in Raleigh. Of course, her decision to purchase a small town newspaper during the digital age might not be the way to the green. Still, with enough advertising and some budget tightening there should be no reason he can't salvage this bad investment. Unless that reason is a sexy reporter determined to use his ad space to annoy their subscribers.

Susan just knows there is something off with the annual Baptist Church Bake-off. Why else would she be receiving the run around from all the board members and the pastor whenever she asks about the changes to this years event? There is no way she will allow Mark to sell ad space where her story about the shenanigans of the fine folks at First Baptist should go.

Susan's not the only one thinking there is something more than baking going on at the bake-off. The Murder Mystery Club - octogenarians with a love of all TV shows regarding crime fighting - is as determined as Susan to find out what's what with the cake cookers - and to help Susan and Mark see they are perfect for each other along the way.

Almost all the humor in this story just fell flat for me. Let's begin with the Murder Mystery Club. I know that it was supposed to be oh-so-cute that these three enterprising old folks and their aide were turning a bathroom at their assisted living center into a CSI Lab. And that they are busy violating everyone's privacy in order to build dossiers on the whole town. I wasn't laughing or being charmed in any way. It seemed to me that the characters were written like precocious ten year olds as opposed to adults, and I found that pretty unattractive. Understand that these people weren't just telling it like it is or meddling in the lives of the "young folk" like most romance novel feisty oldsters. They were convinced you could buy a crime lab on line and other similarly silly things. I have family members in their eighties and nineties and I can assure you reaching the upper double digits doesn't mean losing all your dignity and basic common sense.

Problem two was a bit more serious. I have been very blessed in never having to deal with alcoholism in my personal life. I stopped dating a guy once because it disturbed me that even just having dinner at home meant multiple drinks but that's as close as I've come. My understanding though is that interventions, Alcoholics Anonymous, and rehabilitation clinics are the way to go to handle this problem. In this particular book an alcoholic character is essentially enabled. His daughter cares for him, making his meals, having him live with her and paying all the bills and being pretty understanding when she finds him constantly sneaking alcohol into the house. One scene captured this perfectly:

She set the laundry basket on the bottom stair, and came to collect the mountain of cans he'd stacked on the far side of his chair, out of sight.

She sighed and picked up the only full can, grimacing when she found it to be warm. "Of course it is," she muttered. "He knows that if he leaves them in the fridge, I'll pour them all out."

She stared down at her sleeping father. He'd had eight beers after dinner, and probably as many or more beforehand. She collected a throw blanket from the couch and laid it across him, then bent and kissed his forehead.

This takes place after she had had to support him just so he could get from the garage into the house. This sense of enablement would have been bad enough but there was more.

There was a sense of judgment to statements regarding her mother, who left and tried to take her daughter with her (statements like, "She sometimes wondered if she'd have felt differently if her mother had bothered to stick around after her twelfth birthday."). It was implied that a decent person would have stuck it out, taking care of this man who refused to reform - and for whom previous interventions hadn't worked. We are told "She'd watched her own parents' marriage crumble, her father becoming more and more self-destructive until her mother had stormed out, bags packed. She refused to go with her mom; the thought of leaving Dad alone seemed heartless." Call me uncompassionate, but I found that pretty sick. In my opinion it was morally reprehensible that a twelve year old was allowed to stay home caring for an alcoholic dad. I was thoroughly uncomfortable with the attitudes being displayed here. Then again, I have read more than one novel where loving dear old daddy no matter what he did was required for the woman to be heroine material, so maybe I should have expected it. This took it a step too far for me though.

I also struggled with the fact that Susan seemed to feel that content was what would save the paper. Newspapers - quality papers with hard hitting stories and award winning writers - are losing readers all the time. The issue is technology, not quality. I was skeptical that a reporter of Susan's supposed caliber would be shocked that a small town paper was having financial problems.

The romance was very blah. It was there, and the two had a couple of pretty hot love making sessions. But the whole love story relied too much on lust thought and too little on them being together as a couple. There was also too much heating up and cooling down for my taste. They'd moved towards a relationship, away from it, stall a bit, then move back towards it. In the end these factors made it hard for me to believe in their HEA.

There were some bright spots. Karen Hawkins is an experienced writer and her style is smooth and easy to read. Mark is an amiable and interesting character and he actually reminded me a bit of Edward from Sense and Sensibility , a character I have always loved. He had that same mix of courtesy, kindness, and compassion.

But those bright spots weren't enough. I wanted to like this novel.I really, really did. Ever since I saw "His Girl Friday" at twelve years old, I have loved newspaper romances. But this one didn't work for me.

Reviewed by Maggie Boyd
Grade : D+

Sensuality: Hot

Review Date : May 4, 2010

Publication Date: 2010/03

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Recent Comments …

  1. Yep, that’s the long and short of it – I like her more as a contemporary writer because of this.…

Maggie Boyd

I've been an avid reader since 2nd grade and discovered romance when my cousin lent me Lord of La Pampa by Kay Thorpe in 7th grade. I currently read approximately 150 books a year, comprised of a mix of Young Adult, romance, mystery, women's fiction, and science fiction/fantasy.
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