Sweet Memories/One Tough Texan is part of a 50th anniversary series by Harlequin showcasing reprints of older books with new books by current authors. In this case, a 1984 Superromance by LaVyrle Spencer, Sweet Memories, is matched with One Tough Texan, a new Superromance by Jan Freed. Maybe it’s my Gen-X, raised-on-MTV, attention-span-of-a-gnat sensibility, but I could really see the evolution of pacing, style, and subject matter between the 1984 and 1999 model Superromance, and far prefer the latter.
Sweet Memories is, indeed, quite sweet. It features Theresa Brubaker, a 25-year-old virginal music teacher who still lives at home with her parents. Theresa’s oversized breasts have made her physically uncomfortable and the target of unwanted male attention since she was fourteen. Then Brian Scanlon joins her family for Christmas, and the first thing he does is look into Theresa’s eyes, not her chest. A romance between them gradually develops over his two-week stay, as Theresa overcomes her feelings of unattractiveness and Brian gently woos her.
For someone used to the current-day series romance, which tend to have a lot more action, the static plot of Sweet Memories made for slow going. On one hand, it was a more realistic-feeling portrayal of real life romance, and both characters were relentlessly average people, not larger than life heroes and heroines. On the other hand, well, not much happens in a story that goes on for over 300 pages.
The biggest issue in the book (literally) is not even the romance, it’s Theresa’s breasts. Here Spencer does an interesting job of showing what a burden they are, describing them as “bovine,” “devastatingly enormous” and “pendulous weights,” among other things. This is from the “issues” period of Superromance; it’s obvious here that the traumas of large breasts and the option of breast reduction surgery is the issue. In fact, the action, such as it is, literally halts for several lectures which explain the genuine health problems caused by oversized breasts and how breast reduction surgery isn’t just a vanity operation for ‘movie stars and playgirls’. Oddly, this portion of the story is also the most compelling and brought out more real emotion than the relationship.
The problem with the relationship side of the story is that Brian is a non-entity. Other than the facts that he’s in the Air Force, plays music on the side, and is a relentlessly nice guy, we learn almost nothing about him. I might have enjoyed the slow-paced but very detailed writing (Theresa gets dressed for about four pages at one point) had the story been more interesting, but as it was, it was very difficult to keep my attention on it.