Love and a Bad Hair Day
Love and a Bad Hair Day is 282 pages long, costs $13.95, and took me well over a week to read (and I was immobile for two of those days). It has a deceptively cutesy cover featuring an adorable brunette twenty-something chick wearing a big smile and a big floral hat. (To cover up bad hair? We’ll never know, because this character and the hat do not exist anywhere in the book!) Though written in the first person, this story is a standard category romance packaged up and priced to attract the Chick Lit crowd. Hmmm, guess someone thought we wouldn’t notice….
Thirty-four year old Jolene Hadley Corbett is the voice of this story. She’s happily divorced and the single mother of a nine year old boy whose lowdown, good-for-nothing father is a non-entity in their lives. Jolene believes in two things: The importance of waiting around for “signs” and the power of good hair. She refuses to be seen in public without her 80’s bouffant shellacked (with Aqua Net, no less!) within an inch of its life. Jolene owns the local beauty salon and actually has paying customers (despite that scary reliance on Aqua Net) and is quite content until the day childhood crush Ryman O’Malley waltzes back into town.
Ry had the misfortune of being born into the greedy, money grubbing O’Malley family and, since the Hadleys and O’Malleys have feuded for decades over the sale of land and scads of money, he’s always been completely off-limits to Jolene. While Jolene’s family stood around awaiting a grand “sign” from above (duh!), the O’Malley clan seized opportunity and sold their land. A highway was built between the two families, the O’Malleys becoming stinking rich, and the Hadleys struggled thereafter to eek out a living. Jolene knows that so much as speaking civilly to Ry will have dire familial consequences.
When Jolene discovers that Ry has plans to demolish his recently deceased grandfather’s motel (and a big source of her customer base), she’s not surprised. But a lifetime of inhaling Aqua Net fumes seems to have affected her better judgment and, even though she despises the man she believes is the reason for most of her current and past woes, she longs for the touch of his lips upon hers (so long as he keeps his paws out of her hair). See where this is going? Thought so.
Amusing writing and mini-subplots – including one about Ry’s struggles with his rebellious teenage daughter, Sugar Anne (truly, I did not make that or the Aqua Net up) and Jolene’s journey to overcome her rigidity and concern about what others think – add interest to this older-than-dirt plot. There are also a small number of secondary characters who pop in to add a bit of humor and warmth (crusty old Granny is a hoot), but their inclusion does nothing to hide the fact that the bulk of the story consists of little more than lots of mental lusting between Ry and Jolene. They throw out some terrific one-liners, but a lack of honest, open conversation stands between them. Their encounters are sexy and their attraction genuine, but once their relationship progresses into a full fledged romp, the bedroom door is slammed so abruptly and completely I’m surprised my nose is still intact! What a tremendous waste of great chemistry.
Since Jolene is the narrator of this story, we see the world from her vantage point, which can be an exasperating experience. She is extremely rigid, often unreasonable, set in her ways and – what with her insecurities, the big 80’s hair and her insane fear of facing her old Granny – reads a bit like a caricature at times. Fortunately, she is also down to earth and witty, even when she’s acting irrationally. Jolene questions her life choices (and those of her previously perfect family members) quite a bit in the 10-day time span in which this book takes place and that’s a very good thing.
I’m interested in seeing what debut author Annie Flannigan comes up with next. Here’s hoping she pens a modern lead character and a fresher plot (and a full blown love scene wouldn’t hurt any either!) and pulls it all together with humor and warmth to create a book that is truly as “infectious” and “unputdownable” as the back blurb on Love and a Bad Hair Day promised.