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The Truth About Tara - Darlene Gardner Grade: DNF at 33%If he smiled, he’d be handsome. But if he smiled, she’d be even more freaked out.The set-up:An injured ballplayer shows up in a small tourist town to track down a famous orthopedic surgeon. He’s also on a mission to help his private investigator sister solve a cold case.The hits:Um…. Gimme a second, here…. Still thinking…. Nope. Nada. Nil. Nothin’. Shut-out.The wild pitches:Ugh. Did I say that already? This book was ALL OVER THE PLACE, trying to do and be way too much. This seems to be common for Harlequin SuperRomances — squash as many tropes as possible into one book to appeal to every type of category reader.The only references to the “hero” being a ballplayer are his injuries, for which he shows up uninvited and unannounced on the doorstep of a world-famous surgeon who’s on vacation.While he’s on the DL, the “hero” is a stalker. The opening scene is the hero following the heroine in his car as she’s leaving work, then accosting her on the sidewalk. Then he innocently starts appearing at the grocery store, the gym, the camp where she volunteers…. And, poor baby, he doesn’t understand why she tries to avoid him.Why is he following her, you ask? Because his sister the private investigator asked him to. She’s working on a cold-case kidnapping from 25 years earlier, so she sends him out with an age-progression photo of the now-grown missing child. Take a WILD guess who matches the photo exactly. This whole premise just has WTFery written all over it.Nothing too overly awful about the heroine, except for her willingness to allow her widowed mother to guilt her into anything and everything. And of course we get the unnecessary and intrusive POV of the TSTL, passive-aggressive mother.Strike three, game over:The plot moppets. And not the usual annoyingly precocious plot moppets.These plot moppets are kids with developmental disabilities. The heroine’s foster brother has Down’s syndrome, and she and her mother volunteer at his summer camp, providing ENDLESS opportunities for heavy-handed enlightenment.It’s like a Diversity & Inclusion 101 lecture on Down’s syndrome, brain injuries and other conditions. EVERY mention of one of the kids is a “teachable moment” about their physical appearance, communication barriers, emotional control and social interaction. These kids aren’t characters — they’re just props to inject An Important Issue into an issue-driven category romance.The final score:Too much of EVERYTHING. And not nearly enough baseball.