Gone With the Nerd by Vicki Lewis Thompson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I enjoy Vicki Lewis Thompson's books, but I want nothing more than to sit her down and read her dialogue aloud to her. I can forgive some of the flaws, but the consistently terrible dialogue makes me wince.
While this is the fourth in the series, it's not necessary to read them in order. They're connected by theme, rather than continuity.
Zoe Tarleton is a Hollywood actress, typecast in the sexy love interest role. She thinks she's up to something more challenging, and she's going to prove it by going against type and playing a "nerd," a woman scientist whose life is threatened because she's invented a pill that will help with weight loss, sexual dysfunction, and aging. I was relieved to find out, at the very end, it was meant to be a comedy, but that created more puzzlement: since when are comedy roles well-respected?
To research her role, she asks her contract lawyer, Flynn Granger, to spend a weekend away with her so she can observe him. He has a girlfriend, but they both realize while they're negotiating this agreement that they're attracted to one another. They push forward with the plan, anyway, and wind up in a rustic cabin in the middle of a small town gripped in Bigfoot fever. The townsfolk are hoping to prop up the local economy, stalled since the mine closure, by the fact that they've had several Bigfoot sightings.
I figured out the mysterious stalker/attempted murderer within 50 pages, but that's not why I read these silly books. I read them for the tension, which was more believable than in previous Nerd books. Flynn thinks he's serious about his girlfriend, Kristen, and initially doesn't want to cheat on her. How he figures some of his actions don't constitute cheating, I'll never know.
There are a number of factual and time inconsistencies. Characters go out to have breakfast, talk to people for about a half an hour, get back to the cabin, and are suddenly famished. I didn't get the feeling the author knows a lot about how Hollywood works, though she also sidesteps several clichés. Zoe may be approaching her mid-30's, but she isn't obsessing about her "expiration date" or hunting for wrinkles in the mirror. She's aware her age may become an issue, but it doesn't bother her yet. However, for her age, Zoe is strikingly naïve. It never crosses her mind that her attractive lawyer might have a girlfriend, she calls him a nerd to his face, and she assumes all nerds are alike. I suppose it's to highlight a theme that not all nerds are the same, but it came across clumsily and made her character skirt the Too Stupid To Live line.
As with Nerd Gone Wild, the antagonist has a kinky side to show how evil she is. I dislike this tendency of Ms. Thompson's, to associate deviant sexuality with mental illness and a tendency to do harm. Most of the people I know who practice BDSM are moral, sane people. They're not very open about their tendencies, though, just because of this societal attitude that something is wrong with someone who practices BDSM.
You may want to skip the last chapter entirely, by the way. It's saccharine sweet, and adds very little except the clarification that Zoe's nerd role was for a comedy. I didn't need to read about Zoe's life a year later to know they'd be happily ever after. It was too much.
These books are great for mindless escapism, and an alternative to the alphaholes found in most romance novels. But, I don't recommend going in with the expectation they're well-written, and definitely don't take this dialogue as a good example. I've seen log cabins less wooden.
Previously reviewed by Vicki Lewis Thompson:
Nerd in Shining Armor
The Nerd Who Loved Me
Nerd Gone Wild
View all my reviews