Monday, December 23, 2013

Love Overdue - by Pamela Morsi

I don't believe I have ever read a Harlequin Romance before. I rarely read romance novels, and I admit to becoming somewhat jaded about them during my long ago bookstore clerk days. The series romances would come in monthly installments, and then the same women (they were always women) would show up and buy the lot of them. I would hear them chattering while they waited in line about how they needed to get to the store the day they came out, lest they miss one. Occasionally, they would explain that such a calamity had befallen them at some point in the past, and they were not about to let it happen again. Even without reading these novels I sensed that they were all pretty much the same, and couldn't understand why missing one was such a big deal. I once made the mistake of suggesting to one of our customers that perhaps she could go to the library and read the books she was missing. No, this was not good enough because, she explained, she needed to own them.

So anyway, I read a review of Morsi's novel in one on the endless stream of trade magazines that comes across my desk, and just couldn't resist putting in an Interlibrary loan request for it. Just take a look at the cover! Look at those sensible shoes! I must admit that this was a fun mindless read. The story starts with librarian Dorothy Jarrow moving to Kansas with her little dog. The "Oz" allusions continue throughout without any subtlety. In fact, there is nothing subtle about this book. Morsi appears to have had a lot of fun playing with the stereotypes, which again, she didn't even try to pretend were anything else:

"...librarians were expected to be law-abiding, as well as sedate, slightly stuffy and incredibly sexless. D.J. was pretty certain she fit that bill perfectly."

It is suggested that the new librarian must be "a homely old maid, married to her cat." Disbelief is expressed when someone says that she actually "looks kind of pretty."

Despite the fact that she is young and "kind of pretty" she is also described as going for that "old maid look... [with a] stuffy business suit, gray on gray with her hair pulled back into a little bun like somebody's grandmother." Variations on this description pop up several more times throughout.

The book flashes back several times, however, to a Dorothy who is eight years younger, and enjoying spring break at South Padre Island, Texas. And it is here that we find out that the librarian is perhaps not as stuffy as she makes herself out to be. Will she ever remove those "bookworm" glasses and let her hair down again? The answer, of course, was not really a big surprise.

I will also say that despite having a rather stereotypical look about her, D.J. is portrayed as a very competent librarian - recognizing how she can better serve her community; figuring out how to rearrange the library for better light; and she of course believes that everyone, including children, should be able to select their own reading materials. She is anti-book banning, and anti-censorship.

One other thing I should point out is that this work not only has a librarian, but also a busybody Library Trustee whom D.J., for some reason, thinks should call her "Ms. Jarrow". Really? I'm a trustee, and we all use first names.

Although entirely predictable (really, there was not plot turn that I didn't see coming pages out) I have to admit to enjoying this one. This is not to say I'm about to start a romance book subscription, or wait in line at the bookstore once a month.

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