Paper Rose

Diana Palmer
2004 reissue of 1999 release, Contemporary Romance
HQN, $6.50, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373770219

Grade: F
Sensuality: Warm

Diana Palmer is so very popular that I asked to review this, her latest book. The plot looked interesting - it was about gambling on a contemporary Indian reservation. I sat down to read and the more I read, the less I enjoyed it. Paper Rose left me angry, confused, upset, and baffled. I'm afraid I have nothing good to say about it.

Cecily Peterson lives near the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation. She is seventeen, her mother has died and she lives with her stepfather and works in the family general store. Tate Winthrop is a full-blooded Lakotah Sioux who lives in a house near the reservation, but not on it. Question: Doesn't the name Tate Winthrop bring to your mind the image of a New England WASP? Tate knows the Petersons and notices bruises on Cecily. He drags the truth out of her. Her drunken stepfather has been beating on her and has almost raped her. Even though Tate has "a fine contempt for most women", he makes up a story about knowing of a scholarship for deserving students that will allow Cecily to attend college and study archaeology, her dream. Actually, Tate will be the one financing Cecily's education.

After Cecily graduates, she finds out the truth about who has paid for her education. Does she thank Tate, does she ask him why he has been so kind to her? Nope. That would be the act of a mature person. She goes to a televised banquet (Tate moves in high political circles) and dumps a bowl of crab bisque in his lap. Oddly though, for such a Big Incident, we the readers do not see it first hand. We hear of it from Tate, from Cecily and from various and sundry supporting characters while Cecily pouts and whines and vows that Tate is trying to make her dependent on him and that she hates, hates, hates him.

But does she really hate him? Of course not. Cecily has a big time lust for the man. And Tate? He has a big time lust for her, but will he act on it? Nope. Cecily is white and Tate is a full blooded Lakotah Sioux who does not want to dilute his precious blood-line with inferior (non-Lakotah) women. So is Tate out on the reservation looking for a Lakotah woman of pure enough ancestry to bear pureblooded children for him. Of course not, that would be logical. Tate lives in Washington D.C., works for a big security firm and dates a rich blonde woman who hates Indians but finds him exotic. Does this make sense? I didn't think so either.

Events pile up thick and fast. There is a proposal to allow casino gambling on the reservation that is opposed by the senior senator from South Dakota. It seems that some big Eastern Syndicate has blackmail material on the tribal chairman, and, should casino gambling be approved, they would try to take over. This whole gambling sub-plot was introduced and then disappears for a long stretch of time.

In the meantime, Tate and Cecily fight and then make up and then fight, and fight, then finally give into their mutual lust. And what do they do after that? You're right - they fight some more! Then Tate finds out that he is not a pure blooded Lakotah after all and that Cecily has known it for some time and that his mother has kept it from him for all these years. Of course he blames them - remember he has "a fine contempt for women" and he and Cecily fight and fight and fight until practically the last page when they swear eternal love and devotion. And if you believe that, I have a rain forest in Alaska I'd like to sell you.

Paper Rose is written with lots of short, choppy sentences. Characters are described over and over again. After the first description I know that Cecily has blonde hair and green eyes and I do not need to have it repeated ad nauseum. Neither Tate nor Cecily are at all likable. Tate in particular spends nearly the entire book with a raging mad-on. He is always angry, and when he thinks Cecily has slept with another man, he goes over and beats him up (and remember Tate won't sleep with Cecily because he does not want to contaminate his precious gene pool).

I did not like this book. I don't like moody violent people in real life and I don't care to read about them - not when they are presented as heroes. If I ever met a Tate Winthrop in real life, I'd stay very far away from him. As for Cecily, she was immature and whiny. And when moody, violent man hooks up with whiny, immature woman - I see fireworks in the future, and not happy days.

-- Ellen Micheletti

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