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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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10/08/2005 Archived Entry: "Book review: The Next Mrs. Blackthorn"

The Next Mrs. Blackthorne
By Joan Johnson
Published by Pocket Books

Review by Lynn Loper

Things I learned from reading The Next Mrs. Blackthorne:

Difficulties between families can always be resolved by females from family A offering themselves for sexual uses to the males from family B.
No one in Texas has a normal name. They're all named Rockhorn Blackthorne, or Chance, or Breed: big names, names with meaning and resonance, names authors use when their books have no meaning or resonance. If your name is Mary Ellen, Mike or Ralph, you can't live in Texas.
Women's sexual arousal is always heralded by their nipples becoming prominent. This author has a thing for nipples. Also sexy underwear. The pure virgin who is the main character in the first half of the book wears a half-cup bra from Victoria's Secret under her snazzy, but pure, clothes. Right.
Women belong to men. "Would North want an accomplished lover? Someone who could give him pleasure? Or would he find satisfaction in knowing he'd stolen her virginity from Clay Blackthorne?" What about stealing Clay's virginity?
When you run out of other adjectives, use 'incredibly'. You'll save time, and the reader will get some fun out of phrases like 'incredibly long bed' (Six feet? Sixty?) and 'incredibly provocative underwear' (What do people do when they see it? Froth at the mouth? Lose their minds?).
Everyone manipulates everyone else. When people make suggestions to you, they're trying to get you to fulfill their fell designs. Nobody just wants you to pick up a Quarter Pounder for them when they're at McDonald's -- it's all part of their plan to dominate the world.
The climax (forgive me) of all human relationships is sexual.
You can publish a novel in this country even if some of the sentences in it read like they were lifted directly from the weekly soap opera roundup: four or five names, all verbs. "She'd introduced Jocelyn to her brother North in hopes that North would distract Jocelyn from Clay."

Okay. Down to details. We have an illegitimate daughter of feuding families who wants to reconcile her Romeo-and-Juliet-twenty-years-later parents, we have stock sales and blackmail and a virgin heroically offering herself on the altar of family loyalty (the virgin, who wants to have her cake and eat it too, is the one with the Victoria's Secret underwear and a tattoo of a butterfly where only someone who takes off her underpants can see it), a mad bomber and his wacky son, some cattle brandin' and horse ridin' and skinny dippin'.

Maybe if you'd read the first book of this series (nothing could make me do that now), it would make sense. But since every character in the book is lifted from something I've already read (Mr. Rochester from 'Jane Eyre', Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms), and since nothing that happens in the book has any relationship to anything that might happen in my life, its 417 pages of names and verbs have slid, as they say, in one head and out the other. I read it this morning, and I honestly can't remember the book's title.

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