Monday, March 26, 2007

Simple Jess? Simply Hilarious!

A guest review...

Awhile ago, I had the brilliant idea of forcing friends who normally never read romance to read and review a book chosen by me, based upon their personality and proclivities. Margee, of Sportsquee, which gets many more daily hits than me, was my first victim. Margee is a production slave in the Sports division of a major network, and as such, works about 14 hours a day. She is also my baby sister. I don't really think she really reads all that much besides magazines, with her crazy schedule. At first I was going to go with the obvious, a sports romance, but then I read Simple Jess by Pamela Morsi. I thought that it would be unusual enough and well-written enough to melt her cold, dead heart. Let's see how that went, shall we? My comments will be in purple at the end. Straight from the Sportsquee bunkers in Wyandanch, here she goes:

Devon, my eldest sister, whose taste I trust completely, has asked me to guest-review the novel Simple Jess. Devon thought this would be a perfect read for me since the hunky hero of the story is mildly retarded. I’m not sure if that is a comment on my ex-boyfriends, my affection for the Thatcher clan of Life Goes On or my taste in music. Regardless, I was pleased to delve into a story containing someone actually referred to as “Simple Jess.”

Synopsis: Althea Winsloe, a widowed mother living in the Ozarks enclave of Marrying Stone Mountain is under siege. Her husband Paisley (sadly, we never get to meet his siblings Plaid, Polka Dot, and Argyle) has been gone for a few years now, done in by that romantic novel cliché of choking to death on a chicken bone. Now both her meddling mother-in-law and town elder Granny Piggot are insisting that she marry. Every rootin’ tootin’ bachelor in town has his mind set on courting her, mostly to get their grimy mitts on her deceased husband’s land and remarkable pack of hunting hounds. But the headstrong Althea is determined not to marry again, as Paisley was a bit of a douche. So when the slow-witted Jesse Best approaches her about fulfilling his lifelong dream of owning a hunting hound, Althea seizes the opportunity to screw over the dudes trying to come a-courting. She puts “Simple Jess” to work getting her and her grating son Baby-Paisley ready for the winter, and as payment he can have the dogs. But it isn’t long before Simple Jess feels hard down there, especially when he notices those round things with points that are peeking out of Miss Althea’s josie. And Althea can’t help but notice the strapping figure, innate kindness, and naturally blond hair of her new hired hand. Meanwhile, two suitors pop up. There’s Oather Phillips, who is reluctant to court Althea because he’s a closeted gay and handsome assbag Eben Baxley. Unfortunately, Oather’s sister Mavis, she of wild red hair and maternal instincts, tried to trap the ne’er-do-well ladies man Eben into marrying her long ago, by engaging in a moonlight tryst in the presumably filthy woods of Marrying Stone. And now Eben Baxley has come to town intent on wooing Althea, and humiliating/making a mistress of Mavis. To spare his sister the humiliation of having her erstwhile lover as a neighbor, Oather sets out to court the widow Winsloe. But our strong-willed widow’s round and pointy parts only notice one man: Simple Jess.
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The Bad: First of all, Devon, there were not nearly enough sex scenes in this book. Not even close. I had to keep re-reading the same one just to keep interested. Don’t get me wrong, when Simple Jess and Althea finally boned, it was pretty hot, but there should’ve been some josie-ripping within the first 30 pages to satisfy someone whose website focuses mainly on what athlete you’d prefer to hit it with. And the sex scene, like much of the book, was punctuated by moments of unintentional hilarity on the part of Simple Jess’ naïveté. “Ohmygosh, you’re holding it!” is a line I don’t think I’ve ever read in a love scene before. And it brought back so many memories from high school. And I know it was all in an attempt to set the Appalachian scene, but the language of the book was just a little too much for me. Unfortunately, I’ve somehow incorporated it into my daily life. I fear it’s caused some trouble at work. “I’m gonna be a-digitizing on this here deck. We ain’t got but one that ain’t rolling tape.” “The editors been done gone since the little feller done brought the Chinese food. But don’t worry, sugartail, I can get a-fixin’ yer sequence.” “I’m sorry, boss. I don’t fancy a rollix with you. I plan on beating the bed with none but my husband.”

The Good: Mavis and Eben totally hit it. Decently executed, but I could’ve used another forest-bound rollix or four. Also good, the author developed the story and the characters slowly. Like, glacially slow (again, no sex!). While it did little to satisfy my thirst for tingling thighs and ripped union suits, it did give a lot of credibility to Althea’s budding love for Simple Jess. I found myself completely believing that Althea could love the feeble-minded lug that gets hard at the sight of her. Simple Jess was well written as long as someone else was narrating. While his child-like view of his new feelings of love and desire was pretty affecting, his internal struggle to figure out what the josie-peeking round parts with the points were, made Apple Juice shoot from my nose.

All in all, Simple Jess gave me hope, and whole new set of dating criteria. The dating pool in New York is even crappier than the one in Marrying Stone, after all. I think I’ll head down to the Radio Shack in my finest josie now.

Ah well, I guess Margee won't be getting a pair of Simple Jess jammies to match mine. I adored this book. One of the things I liked best about it was the lack of unintentional hilarity regarding Jess . (Then again, I'm a much nicer person than Margee. Really) I also loved the innocent sensuality of it all. I love how Morsi was able to make it both hot and sweet. This one's a classic, IMHO. I've got to track down my own copy.


Kristie (J) said...

That was a hoot!! Margee of Sportsqee fame does have Bam like abilities to make you laugh at her review. It does appear she's not going to get that set of jammies doesn't it :( but you simply jess have to get her to read more so we can read very funny reviews. And while there might not be enough sex, there's probably a wee bit more than in a sports magazine *g*

Anonymous said...

Seriously - I am dying laughing. That review and devon's comments made me want to read this book! Dev - I might have to borrow this for my trip!

Devon said...

Don't laugh too hard, hanrahan, I'm coming after you next. Actually, this would've been a good choice for you. I think you'll like it. We'll have to get it from Margee. When is your trip? I'll have to send you off with some light reading (to be reviewed later, of course).

Ann Aguirre said...

I loved this book too. I wish Pamela Morsi was still writing historicals.