Harlequin Presents #200
As the first American author of Harlequin Presents, Janet Dailey set her novels in all 50 states. I suppose this was to show foreign readers how diverse and exotic the USA can be. Although her books never inspired me to jet-set across the country, I, too, have travelled around the States and found myself in various oh-so-glamorous US cities like: Providence, Rhode Island; Charlotte, North Carolina; Tampa, Florida; Bridgeport, Connecticut; South Bend, Indiana; and Newark, New Jersey. Talk about exotic!
Dailey’s HP #200 Show Me is set in the “Show Me” state of Missouri, with the hero, Jake, saying lines like this over and over again: “I’m from Missouri. You have to show me to believe.”
Jake is a bitter man who’s returned home after being away for more than half a decade. He’s sour because he was forced to marry Tanya, the mother of his son, John. The child was a result of a drunken one-night-stand Jake can’t recall. The “hero” is a deadbeat dad, as he’s lived in Africa for 7 years and made no effort to get to know his son. Plus, he’s contemptuously open about not having been a faithful husband.
There is a Harley dramatic revelation at the end, which the heroine had to do if she expected to engage in makeup sex with her husband.
So the big twist is… Tanya isn’t really John’s mom and Jake isn’t his dad. Their dead siblings were the real parents and their shotgun marriage was due to a big lie/misunderstanding.
Jake didn’t have to stay away from his family for so many years if Tanya had talked to him back when the kid was born.
Final Analysis of Show Me
But what kind of story would exist if the protagonists acted like adults and engaged in conversation? It would make for a dull romance. Almost as dull as this one.
This was a slow, ponderous read. I swear Janet Dailey could take a decent plot and make it as fun as reading furniture instruction manuals.