Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off
Mardi Gras publishing is not a major player in the e-book market, which isn’t surprising if a book like Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off is any indication of the quality of their product. Even disregarding the myriad of spelling and grammar errors, turning a blind eye to the glaring consistency problems, and ignoring the fact that the promising title has absolutely nothing to do with the plot of the story, Tequila reads like a first draft of an inexperienced writer.
The story starts out well, though, the cover is fun and flirty, and the title has lots of potential. Even the simple premise bodes well: two strangers meet in Vegas, both needing to get married for different reasons. They meet, manipulate each other to the altar, and consummate the deed. Then real life begins.
Jack must marry to get his inheritance, and he needs his inheritance to save his ranch. In order to be considered valid, the marriage must last for at least three months. Bethany needs to escape her overbearing, super-rich family, and a marriage that was set up more as a merger than a love affair. She needs a new name, a new location, and a chance to live her own life. So even a ranch in rural Montana seems like paradise.
Oh, Bethany is a virgin when Jack takes her to bed. But, no worries, she has multiple orgasms anyways. And Jack, womanizer extraordinaire, finds that he’s never felt this way before. Ah, the awesome sexual power of the untouched.
The two go off to the ranch, meet a host of secondary characters, and spend the three months falling in love with each other, while discovering buried treasure and the joy of role-playing in the bedroom. There is, however, always the question as to how real the marriage really is.
The first problem is this book’s length – at 200 pages, it’s a monster for an e-book. I understand that it is also available in print (at 348 pages), but even so, the length is daunting. Especially as a good 60-65 pages could have been cut without damaging the story. In fact, it would have helped it along immensely. The story also suffers from the odd dichotomy of dragging where completely unnecessary, yet skipping over the relevant and interesting parts. For example, the book ends just as the secondary characters are finally getting useful and interesting. If this is supposed to be the first of a trilogy – and I have my suspicions – the final climax is a clumsy attempt at a cliff hanger, destined to leave those who actually made it through the 200 pages unsatisfied, if not downright angry.
I mentioned above the careless editing job. Jack’s ex is named Christina in Vegas, Candace in Montana. There are a couple of malapropisms that made me snort. The spelling mistakes are both plentiful and appalling, and the grammar errors atrocious. I was sent an Advance Reader’s Copy, so it’s possible they were all caught before final publication, but I’ve read a lot of ARCs, and I’ve never had one that needed to be cleaned so thoroughly.
The relationship between Jack and Bethany is also problematic. They deal with each other quite naturally, except in the bedroom. I came away with the distinct impression that the novel was “sexed up” in order to be considered erotic, and it felt unnatural and forced.
Finally, the plot action, including the Big Misunderstanding, is clumsy and over-hyped. Twice in the pages leading up to the climax, Bethany thinks “Nothing can ever tear us apart. She might as well have been wearing blinking lights and a neon sign proclaiming: Big Misunderstanding Dead Ahead! The misunderstanding? Not big. Problematic, yes, and quite useful for forcing Jack’s hand, but did not warrant the hysteria that ensued.
There are some gems in the story. The scene where Bethany tells her friends off is great. Jack’s little sister and her cop husband are good too. But they are few and far between.
There is no doubt in my mind that this could have been a competent – even cute – story had anyone along the publishing line stepped back for even a minute to consider the story as a whole, or to look at it as a reader. I can’t understand why the book was allowed to be published in this condition. It is detrimental to the writer and the publishing company, but, most disappointing, it is unfair to the story. It is there, buried under the wordy paragraphs, the too-long manuscript, the stilted character interactions and the shoddy editing. I just doubt that, unlike the buried treasure in the story, anyone will ever be able to dig Tequila out.