The Big Bad Wolf Tells All

Carried Away

The Charm Stone

The Cinderella Rules

Dear Prince Charming

Heat of the Night

The Legend MacKinnon

Legend of the Sorcerer

The Royal Hunter

Sleeping With Beauty

Tease Me

Walk on the Wild Side

Your Wish is My Command

Not So Snow White
by Donna Kauffman
(Bantam, $11.00, PG) ISBN 0-553-38309-6
Not So Snow White opens with a self-absorbed, vapid, financially infantile heroine who is also a washed-up tennis star. When the story ends, she’s, um… pretty much the same. Along the way, she’s fallen into a job coaching the next teenaged tennis phenom, an unlikable brat who will undoubtedly grow up to be a clone of our heroine. But that’s okay because our heroine loves herself. Oh, and our heroine has acquired a rich guy. It’s sort of like imagining Paris Hilton as an ex-pro athlete, not that I’d even want to.

This book should have been titled Not So Entertaining. Tess Hamilton is gorgeous, almost thirty, and nearing bankruptcy, though she’s managed to hide her financial straits from the public. The author doesn’t hide it from the reader, though, and the first thirteen pages are filled with Tess whining about her lack of money and her maxed-out credit cards. Her stellar tennis career ended with a shoulder injury two years earlier, and not surprisingly (except to Tess, who just can’t understand why people aren’t fascinated with her anymore) the endorsement deals have also come to a halt. Tess, however, has been spending money like a whole fleet of drunken sailors, and firing her attorney, agent, and accountant along the way because they had the audacity to insist that she get a grip on her spending. The last straw came when Uncle Sam had the nerve to insist that she pay taxes, of all things. So poor Tess sold off her luxury homes and property, and now she’s down to one posh Florida mansion with three cars, including her beloved Boxster. How low can a girl sink?

How fast can a reader gag? Pretty darn quick, with Tess filling page after page with her version of a celebrity pity party. Tess decides to buck up and go to London to watch her newly-engaged younger brother play in a tennis tournament. Besides, Wimbledon is coming up. She can troll parties for new representation and new endorsements. After all, she’s Tess Hamilton! She’s famous! Everyone knows who she is! And okay, this time she’ll listen and put her money into boring investments. But spending is so much morefun!

An old friend of the family named Aurora Favreaux, part-owner of a spa called Glass Slipper, arranges a meeting between Tess and Max Fontaine, older brother of sixteen-year-old rising star Gabrielle Fontaine. Gaby has torn up the junior circuit and is now trying her hand at the pros. Only she’s without a coach, being prone to foot-stomping temper tantrums on the court. Aurora thinks Tess can be a mentor of sorts to Gaby, helping her get focused for the upcoming Wimbledon tournament. Max is unimpressed. Why should he turn his out-of-control little sister over to a tabloid-prone party girl? Why, indeed.

But Tess and Max are magnetically attracted, yadda, yadda. He’s a stuffed shirt. She’s a spoiled sports princess. Think they’ll get together? Maybe have some hot sex in the back of a limo, then decide they’re falling in love? Think anybody will buy it?

Just about every aspect of this book fell flat. The characters are either unlikable or unbelievable, the “romance” felt like no more than filler, and there are pages upon pages of tennis terminology and pop sports psychology, such as gems like this:

”Opponents change. But the game is always the game.”

It would have been nice if Tess had undergone some elemental change, like growing up, but other than realizing she needs to support herself somehow and maybe she’d like coaching, it doesn’t happen. Max is rich, so Tess finding an actual job is a non-issue, even at the end of the story. Aurora is a slightly vague fairy godmother who views Tess with a great deal of fond indulgence, when what the girl needs is a smack to the head. Gaby is a spoiled teen who sulks when she doesn’t get her way, and is only kept in check by her awe of Tess. As for Max, he seems like a decent guy, but his interest in Tess is inexplicable. It must be her six-foot height or her great figure. Body: hot. Personality: not.

Not So Snow White is part of a sports-themed series featuring the Glass Slipper spa. I missed the first three books, and this doesn’t make me want to hunt them up. In this tennis romance, love equals zero, nothing more.

--Cathy Sova

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