Publication date: May 2017
Short version: Four skunks out of a possible four.
Nora Roberts published her first book in 1981 and our reader/writer relationship goes back almost that far. She’s written more than 200 books, and I’ve read most of them. All I needed was to see her name on a book’s cover and I wanted it.
But lately, I’ve lost that loving feeling.
Nora’s latest, Come Sundown, currently shines with 4.5 out of five stars on Amazon, and spent several weeks on The New York Times best seller list. So I know the problem isn’t the book.
Maybe it’s me.
During more recent years, as Nora transitioned from romance novels to romantic thrillers, I became less and less thrilled. Thrillers meant the introductions of all sorts of elements I wasn’t interested in: bad guys, worse guys; sexy, stoic ex-CIA or ex-SEALS or some other ex-acronym; and often, a woman who needed rescuing from her own stupidity.
But I persevered. This was Nora, and we go way back, after all. You don’t just dump a long-term relationship, do you?
Plus, I’ve gotten weary of women whose translation of “interpersonal skills” is, “act like a guy.”
I’m referring to Nora’s main female character in Come Sundown, Bodine Samantha Longbow, known as Bo.
Which begs for Bo Peep jokes, but let’s not go there.
For women who “act like a guy,” see Bo on page 63:
“You’re always thinking, Bo.”
“That’s why I’m the boss.”
Sounds like an insecure guy response to me.
And actually, Bo, you’re the boss because of nepotism – your family owns the Montana ranch and gave you your job. Kind of like Trump did for Trump Jr. And Ivanka. And Eric. And Jared.
In case we forget Bo is the boss, she reminds us on page 70:
“Abe should have come to me…He should have come to me
to discuss whether I approved…Then I decide on all that…”
Uh-oh. Insecure guy stuff again.
On page 75 Bo calls a ranch hand, Cal, by his last name (very macho); on page 89 she calls him “a stupid son of a bitch” (even more macho); along the way she hits Cal and gives him a black eye, then on page 90 she threatens to kill him (OK, now we’ve gone from macho to psycho).
In a later conversation with Cal (page 129) Bo says “it pisses me off” (twice), “to beat the shit out of him,” and she ponders how men “irritate the living crap out of her.”
Wow, four bodily function references on one page!
And to Cal on page 148, “…you’re an idiot.”
Cal, the “stupid son of a bitch” and “idiot,” is Bo’s love interest, of course.
I got as far as page 161 (out of 466) and pulled the plug after I encountered yet another of the psycho’s stream-of-consciousness. No, not Bo; the story has a full-time psychopath, and we spend a lot of time riding his derailed train of thought. Just a sampling from pages 160-161:
“He had a right – God given – even an obligation to procreate, to continue his line. To spread his seed into the world…He hit her…given her a good whack with the lug wrench…there was a lot more blood than he’d expected…she’d gone and died on him right in the back of his damn truck.”
This is not my idea of entertaining reading. This is more like the evening news. I don’t need to read about violence against women like this.
I see enough on TV.
At this point – where I gave up – we’ve learned that the psycho kidnapped Bo’s aunt many years ago. He kept her chained in a cellar, and impregnated her three times. That was then. More recently, he’s murdered two women. At least, I think that’s the score.
I admit my attention was wandering. I had ceased longing for answers regarding:
Will the kidnapped aunt make a reappearance?
Will Bo and Cal become lovers, and will she continue the name calling?
Will the full-time psycho go after Bo, the part-time psycho?
Note to Nora:
So, the thrill is gone. I just can’t face another 300+ pages of psycho violence, bodily function references, and Bo’s lack of linguistic agility.
I’m just grateful I got this book at the library and didn’t spend $28 on it.
That would have made me psycho.