Talk of the Town

Karen Hawkins
2008, Contemporary Romance
Pocket Books, $7.99, 432 pages, Amazon ASIN 141656022X

Grade: C
Sensuality: Warm

Talk of the Town begins with formerly proper society wife, Roxie Treymayne cutting loose and getting in touch with her inner party girl. I have read this premise so often that it doesnít impress me at all. Just once Iíd like to read about a former wild and crazy gal who settles down and gets serious Ė sort of like what might happen if Paris Hilton decided to read a book.

Roxie Treymayne grew up in Glory, North Carolina where her mama had a finger in all the townís pies. Despite the fact that Roxie was popular and a cheerleader in high school, Mrs. Treymayne always let her know that she wasnít quite good enough. However, Roxie made mama proud by marrying Brian Parker, a handsome lawyer and moving with him to Raleigh where they settled down to McMansion living. Roxie had it all; money, cars, clothes, social position and handsome Brian. So she is lonely and at loose ends. So the other legal wives are catty and snobbish. So their sex life is non-existent. At least mama is proud of her. But when Roxie catches Brian in bed with his (male) partner, something snaps. She goes blonde, she gets a tattoo on her butt, she gets her naval pierced and buys a wardrobe of skimpy clothes. Then flashing lots of leg, she gets a huge settlement from Brian and makes plans to blow off North Carolina and say bonjour to Paris.

Then her brother Mark shows up with news. Mrs. Treymayne has had a heart attack Ė only a mild one but she needs help. Ever the dutiful daughter, Roxie, her housekeeper Tundy, and Mark take off for Glory. Naturally, you canít expect a newly freed spirit to pay attention to speed limits and they are stopped by sheriff Nick Sheppard. Nick used to be a bad boy, but heís reformed big time and now is as straight arrow as they come. He and Roxie were once an item back in high school, but Mrs. Treymayne did not approve.

Back at home, Tundy who has had experience with cranky old women takes Mrs. Treymayne in hand while Mark and Roxie agree to take over her list of volunteer projects. Roxie gets the retirement home where a group of feisty oldsters (is there any other kind?) are all members of a Murder Mystery Club (they mostly watch CSI), but pretty soon they stumble into what looks like a real murder and soon Roxie and Nick are right in the thick of it all.

Talk of the Townhas its moments of humor, but itís one of those books where I found myself on the outside looking in. I simply didnít bond with the characters at all. Roxie isnít annoying, and she has a good heart, but I was very much turned off by her semi-slutty way of dressing. I understood why she wanted to emphasize her femininity, but I kept picturing Pamela Anderson whenever Roxie appeared. Her troubled relationship with her mother is glossed and smoothed over and in the end, all is well. I wanted a bit of angst there Ė not a lot but a touch would have been nice.

Nick was more of a sympathetic character, with a potentially intriguing backstory of which nothing is made. Heís a bad boy gone good with enough of the bad boy persona still lingering around him to make him hawt. Thatís about all I can say for Nick.

The secondary characters in Talk of the Town, range from annoying to delightful, to cartoonish. There were a few of them whom I thought were more interesting than Roxie and Nick, especially Mark and Nickís assistant Susan. Those two seemed a lot more sensible and grounded than almost any of the other characters. The end of the book is fast paced and exciting, and the solution to the crime surprised me Ė I thought I had it all figured out.

I didnít dislike Talk of the Town, but I never really got into it either. Itís a book of parts Ė parts of it were funny, parts were annoying, and parts were just meh.

-- Ellen Micheletti

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