Book Review

Santa, Baby anthology

C-

Title: Santa, Baby
Author: Jennifer Crusie, Lori Foster and Carly Phillips
Publication Info: St. Martin's Paperbacks 2006
ISBN: 0312939760
Genre: Contemporary Romance

(Yes, I know this review is late. But look! It’s almost Easter, and the vernal equinox is upon us. How hard can it be to swap one Pagan-celebration-disguised-as-Christian-mythology for another, eh?)

Short stories are difficult, but romance short stories are well-nigh impossible. In the space of twenty-five to thirty-five thousand words, the author has to show us a couple falling in love, come up with a conflict, resolve the conflict and lead us to happily-ever-after—and make it all believable.

The sticking point is really the process of falling in love. It’s difficult enough for authors to convince me over the space of 380 pages that the characters are not in any danger of slapping restraining orders on each other or appearing on the next episode of COPS. Having to pull off the same feat in the space of 100 or so pages? That’s like the kid’s joke about fitting an elephant into a refrigerator. You open the door, put the elephant in and close the door, but have you actually tried doing this? It’s difficult to do without squashing everything into an unrecognizable glob, including the elephant, and even when you succeed, you still leave huge footprints all over the butter.

I’ve read a good deal of romance short stories in my time, and the only person I know who has consistently managed to fit all her elephants in her fridge (no, I’m not yet tired of this conceit, and I’m going to beat it to death—TO DEATH, you hear me?) is Anne Stuart. I don’t know how that woman does it, but I’ve read several short stories by her, and almost all have them have been a blast. The authors of Santa, Baby…well, I bought the anthology because I’m a diehard Crusie fanatic, but let’s just say she’s not as good at squishing elephants into fridges as Stuart, though she’s a more consistently excellent novelist in general. In fact, a large part of the problem with “Hot Toy” is that Crusie isn’t trying to jam an elephant into the fridge as—well, I’ll go into this later. As for the other two stories: I’ve never read any Lori Foster, and “Christmas Bonus” doesn’t have me running for her backlist. And the Carly Phillips story? If her other works in any way resemble “Naughty Under the Mistletoe,” I’m-a run away from her backlist, shrieking for mercy all the while.

So, on to the brutal savaging that passes for reviews in these here parts!

Hot Toy by Jennifer Crusie
To give this story its due, it’s the only one in the anthology that’s intentionally funny. And Nolan, the hero, is pretty damn hot. And the action is fast and entertaining. But the other bits…ah, therein lies the rub.

The set-up: Woman needs the hottest toy of the season to give her nephew, who’s borne the brunt of one too many disappointments lately for her to let him down. The problem? The toy is beyond sold out, and when she finally digs out an outdated model, she finds herself caught up in an intrigue involving state secrets sequestered in action figures, spies for the Chinese and that really hot assistant prof she briefly dated who may or may not be a double-agent.

The story as a whole suffers from two things:

1. Lack of space. I’ve covered this up above already. There’s a lot going on in this story, between Trudy’s relationships with her sister and her nephew, Trudy’s budding relationship with Nolan, Trudy’s relationship with Christmas and Trudy’s relationship with trust issues in general. Trudy and Nolan have a little bit of a history together, and with romance short stories, this is practically a necessity, because it gives the characters a shared past to work from, so the declaration of luuurrrrve after the space of a few hours or days doesn’t come completely from left field and leave me wondering whether Mama’s Little Codependent really needs an enabler who’s this enable-y. However, Trudy and Nolan don’t have nearly enough of a history to justify Trudy’s reaction towards Nolan.

See, the initial conflict between the two of them stems from Trudy flipping out—and flipping hard—because Nolan didn’t call her back after their third lackluster date a few months before the story begins.

Yup, that’s right. They went out on three dates, Nolan didn’t call, Trudy flips out and feels betrayed.

What. The. Fuck.

I kept wanting to shake Trudy and telling her to get a grip, because seriously: three dates. None of them hot and heavy, even. Look, I’ve been there before, too, and it sucks, but it’s not a big deal. A little coldness towards Nolan? Sure. But Trudy’s reaction is so disproportionate, it’s kind of creepy. I couldn’t help but feel that this could have been set up better. If Trudy and Nolan had had more of a history together, even a history that was only hinted at, I would’ve been much more convinced that Trudy was not, in fact, Utterly Bugfuck.

But that’s not the biggest problem with the story. The main problem with the story is this:

2. Crusie isn’t really squishing an elephant into a fridge. She’s trying to fit a mad-as-hell rhinoceros with a garden hose strapped to its face and deflated tin foil balloons tied to its ears. The rhino occasionally pretends it’s an elephant, but really, it’s not, and mostly it wants out of the fridge. All sorts of things leak into the story, leaving tantalizing hints that just beg to be worked into longer form, like Trudy’s sister and her budding alcoholism, and Trudy’s nephew, and oh my GOD I won’t even go into the incredibly mixed messages this story sends about consumerism and how Owning Stuff can lead you to True Happiness because this review is way, way too long already. Suffice it to say that I finished this story feeling confused and jumbled.

To Crusie’s credit, though? The story ends on a slightly more open-ended note than most romances tend to, and I really, really appreciated it. It was the right ending for the tale, and given how rigid our expectations for romances sometimes are, it took balls. If Trudy and Nolan had declared everlasting, undying love after one night of crazy action, I would’ve…I don’t know, flung this book on the floor and done the hustle on it, and baby, you don’t want to see me do the hustle.

Overall, it was an entertaining story, but it was sub-par for Crusie, and in light of all its problems, deserving of no more than a C.

Christmas Bonus by Lori Foster
Hey, kids, what’s creepier than a dude getting a massive boner every time he’s around his boss’s daughter? I’ll tell you what:

1. When the daughter is ten years younger than he is.

2. And the dude’s giant boners first start popping when she’s barely seventeen years old.

3. And she’s barely graduated college when the story starts.

This story brings to mind a haiku:

Tale tells of squicky
boardroom love. What is this shit?
Harlequin Presents?

But other than the massive EEEGAH SQUICK of this story, it’s largely unmemorable. Maggie’s dad owned the company, and when he kicked the bucket, he left the company to Maggie even though his right-hand man, Eric, had been the heir apparent. The two of them have held off on acting on their attraction, but when Eric discovers Maggie’s Supah-Sekrit (and atrociously written) romance novel manuscript, all bets (and pants) are off.
Grade: D

Naughty Under the Mistletoe by Carly Phillips
What can I say about this particular story? I mean, it’s so bad, the only way I was able to finish it was to hand it over to my friend Katie so she could read it in funny voices and we could all collectively give it the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment.

What, you want a plot summary? Fine. Lawyer chick is switching jobs and decides she wants to hump one of her soon-to-be-former coworkers, but ends up humping the dude’s hot twin brother instead. And then they somehow fall in love. And then there’s a big misunderstanding. Oh, my shrieks of agony when the goddamn misunderstanding reared its head. And then they get back together.

The timeline of this story? A day. I shit you not. Please refer to my comment up above about Mama’s Little Codependent. Dude, CREEPY. But then this whole anthology is kind of creepy.

I’m not sure I can express how awful “Naughty Under the Mistletoe” is. It wasn’t so much a story as an extended exercise to see how many times Antonia breathes in Max’s everloving masculine scent, and how many times their stomachs and tongues and god knows what other body parts (toes? eyebrow? spleen? corpus callosum?) could curl. No, seriously. Antonia’s stomach wouldn’t stop curling with pleasure, which was just plain bizarre to me, because when my stomach does that, it’s a sign I’m about to hurl. If she’d been a roman shower fetishist, I could’ve at least applauded the story for being kinky, but alas, no. You know what else curled during the course of this story? Many, many, many of my brain cells, right before they proceeded to die a painful, ignominious death.
Grade: D-


Silly Interlude: A Series of Totally Awesome Elephant Jokes that Still Make Me Snort-Laugh:
How many elephants can you fit into a yellow Mini Minor?
Five. Two in the front, two in the back, one in the trunk.

How do you put an elephant in your refrigerator?
Simple: open the door, put the elephant in, close the door.

How can you tell there’s an elephant in your refrigerator?
There’s a set of footprints in the butter.

How can you tell there are two elephants in your refrigerator?
There are two sets of footprints in the butter.

How can you tell there are three elephants in your refrigerator?
There are three sets of footprints in the butter.

How can you tell there are four elephants in your refrigerator?
There are four sets of footprints in the butter.

How can you tell there are five elephants in your refrigerator?
There’s a yellow Mini Minor parked in front.

How do you fit a rhinoceros into a yellow Mini Minor?
Open the door, toss one of the elephants out, put the rhinoceros in, close the door.

Back to where you were.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    This is probably sacrilege, but I don’t care about the review, I just love the elephant jokes…

    Sad, I know.

    I takes my laughs where I can get ‘em.

  2. 2
    Candy says:

    Upstaged by elephant jokes! Talk about being hoist by my own petard. Ah well. Such is the danger of posting material MORE AWESOME than my own in the same space.

  3. 3
    fiveandfour says:

    I’ve generally found it a dangerous thing for authors to write these short stories because, as you point out, they hardly ever work.  I’ve given up on them, actually, because my satisfaction/disappointment ratio has been far too out of whack.

    I say it’s “dangerous” because I presume part of the reason a lot of writers do these anthologies is to get their names out there.  It’s, I guess, easier/quicker to write these, it’s a little extra advertising & positive association being listed on the cover with other (usually) known names, and it’s a bit of money.  BUT.  The problem is that for a person who’s reading an author for the first time (again, an assumption: isn’t the target audience mostly the non-initiated reader?), their introduction to an author’s work has a very

    good

    bad chance of leaving a flat taste in the mouth. 

    Obviously writers aren’t setting out to pen less-than-satisfactory stories, but the thing is – usually they do.

    Writers beware the anthology, I say.

  4. 4
    Stephanie says:

    No, no! Your review was spot on about space and time constraints ruining any chance of romantic feasibility. It’s why I don’t read romantic shorts.  Besides, “utterly bugfuck” is my new catch phrase. Thanks for introducing me to it.

  5. 5
    BevQB says:

    How did the elephant hide in the cherry tree?

    He painted his toenails red.

    What’s grey on the inside and clear on the outside?

    An elephant in a Baggie.

    Here’s the one that never fails to make me laugh…

    What do elephants use for tampons?

    Sheep.

  6. 6

    Q: What’s gray and comes in a can?
    A: Cream of Elephant Soup

    Q: What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants coming?
    A: Here come the elephants!

    Q: What did Jane say when she saw the elephants coming?
    A: Here come the grapes. Jane was colorblind.

    OMG.  It’s been 40 years since I first heard these.  This is scary.

  7. 7
    Candy says:

    fiveandfour: You’re right. Actually, my introduction to Mary Balogh was via an absolutely terrible short story, and I was so scarred that I didn’t pick up anything else of hers for years.

    Stephanie: you’re welcome. We Smart Bitches pride ourselves in opening new vistas of advanced vocabulary to our readers, ranging from “batshit cuntmonkey” to “utterly bugfuck.”

    Holy shit, Darlene, those were awesome.

    MORE ELEPHANT JOKES, DAMMIT! WE NEED MORE ELEPHANT JOKES!

  8. 8

    OK, here’s a couple more:

    Q: How do you stop a charging elephant?
    A: Take away his charge card.

    Q: How can you tell there’s been an elephant in your fridge?
    A: You can smell the peanut butter on his breath

    Why can I remember these but I can’t remember the important details of the battle between the Chesapeake and Leopard?

  9. 9
    Invisigoth says:

    How do you escape if you are eaten by an elephant?

    you walk around and around and around and around until you are all pooped out!

    you may thank my kindergarten art class for that!

    bwahahahahaha!  verification word students58

  10. 10

    This is so going to be lost among the elephant jokes, but—<head pops>—you people call 25-35K a short story?  In my neck of the woods, short stories are officially 7500 and under; you’ve passed novelette territory and gone straight to novella.

    Which got me pondering the reviews.  On the assumption that what you describe is representative of romance short fiction, it sounds like they’re trying to do the same work as romance novels, but shorter.  Which seems an enterprise kind of doomed to fail.  Does anybody out there write romance short stories that focus just on just a part of the romance arc?  (The end seems the obvious one, but you could potentially do this with other segments of the story.)  I think I’d rather read a story that evokes romantic love in a particular situation, rather than trying to cram the entire arc of the romance plot into less space than usual.

    Mind you, I arrived at that speculation by thinking, “hey, I wrote a story about romance and it was a lot shorter! . . . by being an utterly tragic account of how the guy screwed up and ruined forever their chances of happiness.  Uh, that probably wouldn’t go over so well.”

    But anyway, are all romance short stories (novellas, whatever) basically shorter versions of entire novels?

  11. 11
    Robin says:

    Sadly, no elephant jokes to share (but I’m alternately horrified and fascinated by that sheep/tampon one).

    Three more Romance authors who, IMO, actually write BETTER shorts than full length books:  Robin Schone, Pam Rosenthal (although her last full length book may prove me wrong on that), and Shannon McKenna.

    Candy, tell me something about Lori Foster’s story—did the hero seem like blend of alpha male and subservient female?  In other words, did he have the sexuality of a high voltage stereotypical alpha male but do lots of nurturing and cooking and stuff like a stereotypical heroine?  I’m working on a theory here.

  12. 12
    kpsr. says:

    ok, so the referene to mst3k just reminded me of one of my favorite episodes, which also happens to have a bit of cross-over appeal for the bitchery.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=rCkc-U2fH1s

    the video is the 1st ten minutes of the episode “Outlaw”, the pertinent part is right at 4minutes 20 seconds (sorry, i couldn’t find it by itself outside of the episode anywhere). mike and the ‘bots do their invention exchange of the Fabio kit.
    who doesn’t love thick buttery slabs of Fabio? makes me giggle every time.

  13. 13
    Meggrs says:

    BevL said: What do elephants use for tampons?

    Sheep.

    Ah yes, but then why do elephants have trunks?

    Cause sheep don’t have strings!

  14. 14
    KS Augustin says:

    I’m with Marie B. Short story is sub-10K. Novella is more 20-35K. I’m very comfortable with the novella form and I know its limitations so I never try for the HEA ending. The best I hope—and write—for is an HFN (Happy For Now) because there are just too many complications that can arise from your plot points and the characters’ foibles, no matter how hard you try to minimise both damn things. Thus: we’re great together in the sack, you don’t make me want to instantly brain you with a shovel, let’s see where this leads us. And maybe it’s somewhere good, but it may also be somewhere bad, but that’s not within the scope of a novella.

    Also, with a novella, you have to flense, flense, flense. Pare everything down to the basics. Forget the goofy secondary characters who could star in their own sit-com spin-off. Forget every bigger-than-Ben-Hur issue except the *one* that you absolutely need to get the action moving. When you do that, you’ll be amazed how much interaction you can fit in (but not in a single day…I draw the line at that). At the moment, I’m having the opposite problem as a novella concept starts expanding into a novel. Just hope my juggling skills are up to it!

    And thanks for the elephant jokes! They’re classics. I’m off to tell them to J, my Warsaw Pact husband, to whom all this will be new, NEW I tell you!

    Q: What did Cheetah say when he saw the elephants coming over the hill?
    A: Nothing. Cheetah can’t speak!

    BONUS:
    Q: Why did the koala fall out of the tree?
    A: It was dead.

  15. 15
    runswithscissors says:

    Candy – this was a freakishly timely review for me since it was only last night that I was glaring at my copy of Santa Baby and thinking, ‘that’s three hours of my life I’ll never get back.’ 

    The Jennifer Crusie story was okay – a few funny bits, a very confused plot that I didn’t understand.  The other two … truly made me feel unclean afterwards.  My biggest gripe about the book is that the three stories didn’t make a good fit together.  Crusie was clearly headlining the gig (I think hers was the only previously unpublished story), and I bought the book based on that.  In my innocence, I assumed that the editors of the anthology might have chosen two other stories that complimented Crusie’s (and no, being set at Christmas doesn’t count) but this was like that episode of Friends where Jennifer made trifle but it got mixed up with shepherd’s pie.

    ps what’s grey and red and spinning round and round?  an elephant in a blender

  16. 16
    Julia says:

    Q: Why do elephants have flat feet?
    A: From jumping out of trees.

    Q: Why shouldn’t you go into the jungle between noon and three?
    A:  That’s when the elephants are jumping out of the trees.

    Q: Why are Pygmies so short?
    A:  They went into the jungle between noon and three.

    My verification is zebra88, but I don’t know any zebra jokes.

  17. 17
    Jeanette says:

    How do you get an elephant out of a tree?
    Put him on a leaf and wait till autumn.

    If I could write like you I would never spend any time on reading.

  18. 18
    SandyW says:

    I have read some short stories that motivated me to seek out the author’s books, working on the theory that if they could do a good job in a limited space, they could probably do a good job with a full-length book. And I have read some short stories that looked like throw-aways to me. Like something the author didn’t think was good enough to finish as a book, so they just tidied it up a little and called it a short story.

    I suspect that a short story may reveal the author’s weaknesses more clearly than a full-length book. There’s a lot less room to cover up glaring plot holes or flat characters with pretty scenery.

    Obligatory Elephant Joke:
    What do you get when you cross an elephant and a peanut butter sandwich?

    Either a peanut butter sandwich that never forgets,
    or
    an elephant that sticks to the roof of your mouth.

    (I am horrified to realize that I probably heard that joke in the late 1960’s.)

  19. 19
    kpsr. says:

    oh, one of my favorites:

    what do you get when you cross an elephant with a rhino?
    elephino.

    (see, it’s funnier when you say it, especially at age 10, because it SOUNDS like you’re cussing.)

  20. 20
    fiveandfour says:

    My verification is zebra88, but I don’t know any zebra jokes.

    Ooh, I do, I do!

    Q.  What’s black and white and red all over?
    A.  A zebra with a sunburn.

    This discussion reminded me this morning about a comment made by a professor oh so many years ago about short stories.  He asserted that they are the most difficult story to write, and I think I agree with that theory.  A novel allows the character of a character (yeah, sorry) to be revealed in a manner similar to how you get to know a friend or acquaintance.  It allows a plot to unfold with both boldness and subtlety.  It’s like a full blown painting by a master. 

    The short story, on the otherhand, requires the writer to get the same picture across to the reader, but with only a few brush strokes.  The writer has to use a shorthand of sorts to give the reader insight into all the things the novelist does, and not many people are truly adept at shorthand.

    When done well, though…wow!  Some of the most impactful stories I’ve ever read have been short stories (An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, pretty much anything by Guy de Maupassant (the master of masters, IMO), ditto Mark Twain, O. Henry, Wodehouse, Chekhov, Poe and F. Scott Fitzgerald) and it’s a marvel to consider how well you believe you know the characters and how important the few things that happen in the course of the story feel.

    Anyway, SandyW, I’ve followed your logic about “if a writer can do this they can do anything” with the short romances – but the unfortunate fact is, for me, it’s been far more often the case that I’ve vowed to actively avoid certain writers after being introduced to their work via an anthology.

  21. 21
    dl says:

    Candy summed up very nicely why I have given up on short stories & anthologies. Pay $8 to $14 each, and 99% of the stories are beyond bad.  Why are publishers releasing so many when the majority are so godawful?  Are readers still purchasing them?  If it’s a must read author, I use the library.

    Recent example, The Firefighter (Brava).  The Susan Lyons offering is better than average although author admits to experimenting with 1st person, present tense which is a somewhat distracting in places.  The other two contributions are gag me with a spoon bad, and I will never willingly read either again.  PJ Mellor is just not good, her heroine is pathetic, perpetually embarrassed, and not interesting. Alyssa Brooks was beyond awful.  Not only was the storyline dumb..is Brooks a virgin?…her sex scenes are unbelievable, roll your eyes and get a red pen awful.  Vigerious sex agains a rock (ouch), a peeled banana as a dildo (ick), and the anal sex unrealistic (shutter)…I dare her to actually try it before she writes about it again, because she’s clueless.

    As a final insult, the book includes a teaser for PJ Mellor’s new book…after her trainwreck of a short story, I’m sooo not interested.

    Why did the elephant cross the road?  To show the possom it could be done.

    DEATH TO ANTHOLOGIES.

  22. 22
    Tania HC says:

    I first heard this one back in the 70s from my uncle Jimmy. I think I find it funnier today than I did as a small child.

    Why do ducks have flat feet?
    To stomp out forest fires.

    Why do elephants have flat feet?
    To stomp out flaming ducks.

  23. 23
    Kerry Allen says:

    How do you get down from an elephant?

    Don’t be stupid. Everyone knows you get down from a goose.

    I actually had a very touching plot thread involving elephant jokes in my manuscript, but it was one of the things that had to be sacrificed in the face of about 40,000 too many frickin’ words. I cut scenes that are longer than romance “shorts.”

    mass35 : When your manuscript weighs 35 pounds.

  24. 24
    Amalia says:

    I wish I had read this review before I bought the book last Christmas.  Thankfully I didn’t pay full price for it (thank you, Wal Mart!).  While I enjoyed the Crusie story, I agree that there was too much jam-packed into it.  My head was spinning when I finished it.  You hit the Lorie Foster story perfectly – ALL of her stories have the same “I’m-young-and-inexperienced-but-I-am-going-to-seduce-my-older-and-more-experienced-soulmate story lines.  To top it off, the women are ALWAYS virgins!  Seriously hot, innately sexy and graceful virgins, too.  Gag me.

    Carly Phillips just lacks consistency for me.  I didn’t like her short story, but a few stories on her back list are okay.

    Anyway, thanks for the review… it confirmed my decision to place the book in the “For Future Yard Sale” category.  That or the “Emergency Toilet Paper” category.

    ~Amalia~

  25. 25
    Jules Jones says:

    I actually had an elephant joke in my last book. And to think I worried about whether people would think it too childish for words…

    Security word is girls78—no, you silly machine, I like *boys*.

  26. 26
    Nanna says:

    Nothing to say on the review, but elephant ‘jokes’? Can’t resist!

    What’s the difference between an elephant and a lump of sugar?
    An elephant’s big and grey and a lump of sugar small and white.

    (okay, so I was 5 when I last heard that one)

    The ‘how do you put an elephant in a refridgerator’ one (I think) is actually better in Dutch, but jokes are never funny when you have to explain them, are they…?

  27. 27

    I can never bring myself to buy the holiday related books short or novel length.  They just bug me.

    I have an elephant related joke, though…it’s a little long so take a potty break. 

    A gentleman met with his doctor about a case of erectile dysfunction.  “Doctor,” he said, “I have a new girl friend.  I think she’s the one, but I just can’t get it up.”

    The doctor replies, “Well, son, you’re in luck.  There’s a brand new procedure that’s pretty effective, although we’re still working out a few kinks.”

    “Doctor, I’m desperate!” the man says.  “What does it involve?”

    “Well, we graft the trunk muscles of an elephant to your penis.  Most men have been very pleased with the results.”

    “Sign me up!”

    So two weeks after the surgery and given the go-ahead by his doctor, the man makes a date with his woman.  He makes reservations at a posh restaurant.  The wine is perfect, the food is excellent and the man thinks that he’s sure to score, when suddenly his penis leaps free of his pants, grabs a bun and disappears under the table.

    His girlfriend looks startled, then intrigued.  “That was cool!” she says.  “Can you do it again?”

    Sheepishly, the man replies, “Gee, I can try, but I’m not sure another one will fit up my ass.”

    See elephant joke and romance, all at once.

  28. 28
    Candy says:

    First of all: Thank you for the elephant jokes. So much love. SO MUCH LOVE.

    Also, to all of you pointing out that 25K words ain’t no short story, it’s a novella: You’re right. Ooops.

    Marie: On the assumption that what you describe is representative of romance short fiction, it sounds like they’re trying to do the same work as romance novels, but shorter.

    Yes, pretty much all the romance shorts I’ve read have attempted to replicate a romance novel arc in the space of a short story. I think the thing that fucks the dynamic up the most is the pressure to get to HEA. Short formats work really well for other genres—literary fiction, horror and SF/F have many, many examples of fabulous short fiction, and Agatha Christie did a good job with mystery shorts, too. And you’re right, romance short fiction would work better if it didn’t attempt to replicate the arc, but a big part of the problem is how romance is defined by the arc. None of the other sub-genres have this problem, because other elements have a much larger say (as in SF/F and horror), or the arc is somewhat easier to wrap up and make convincing (as in mysteries).

    And SandyW: I have read some short stories that motivated me to seek out the author’s books, working on the theory that if they could do a good job in a limited space, they could probably do a good job with a full-length book.

    I have as well, and it proved to be kind of a crapshoot. I remember reading an absolutely marvellous Stella Cameron short story in a collection, for example, only to find that her novel-length fiction ranged from mediocre to absolutely terrible. More often than not, though, I’ve found that anthologies provided me with guidelines for writers to avoid.

    And Robin: Candy, tell me something about Lori Foster’s story—did the hero seem like blend of alpha male and subservient female?  In other words, did he have the sexuality of a high voltage stereotypical alpha male but do lots of nurturing and cooking and stuff like a stereotypical heroine?  I’m working on a theory here.

    You know, I was so distracted by Eric lusting after Maggie’s teenage poontang that I don’t remember whether he showed any unusually nurturing aspects. He did love her romance manuscript in a way that didn’t strike me as remotely convincing, though. I’ll try skimming it again later and report back. Ah, the things I’ll do for my readership….

  29. 29
    Little Miss Spy says:

    I am quite glad to find I am not the only one who finds short romance stories creepy when they are full of lovin’ the first day or week after the two have met. I mean, wtf? It just don’t work that way. Thanks for the review. It has cheered my day immensly. Bugfuck. ahahahah

  30. 30
    Dan says:

    Why am I laughing at those jokes?  Whyyyyyyyyyy…

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