Dancing Shoes and Honky-Tonk Blues

Dark Roots & Cowboy Boots

A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action

Trick My Truck but Don’t Mess with My Heart


Redneck Cinderella
by LuAnn McLane
(Signet, $6.99, PG-13)  ISBN 978-0451-22633-4
The last two McLane stories I reviewed, I gave 4 and 5 hearts to, respectively.  I was so looking for more intelligent wit and energy in this one.  Redneck Cinderella doesn’t come close unless you enjoy "redneck" and "rich people" stereotypes and Hee-Haw slapstick humor.

The rednecks are Jolie Russell and her daddy Wyatt, who were struggling farmers until the Dean Development Company offered them millions for their land, promising them one of the new million-dollar homes as part of the deal.  Copper Creek Estates is everything Jolie has dreamed, with swimming pools and plenty of yards.  But it is also a gated community with rules about whether one can have a vegetable garden and how much fish you can take out of the lake.  These  rules ruin Jolie’s joy in life and that of her daddy, even as they enjoy the benefits of money without having to work for a living.

Cody Dean is the son of the developer and it is he who talked them into selling. Now, a year later, he finds himself on their doorstep trying to tell them that they can’t be creating all these scenes in the neighborhood because the value of the homes are starting to decline.   Jolie is mesmerized by Cody, as she has been since a young teenager.  She becomes tongue-tied and acts like a fool.  In fact, the story opens with a slapstick scene found in many comedies – Jolie and her dog accidently crash a big party and cake goes flying.  Ha ha.

Cody’s brother, Brett, has left the family business to be a schoolteacher and coach, getting away from the country club set he found to be stifling and stuffy.  He talks Jolie into working with another “reformed” rich person in order to learn etiquette lessons to help her fit in.  The goal – attend the end of the summer Cotillion at the Country Club.  Things get complicated when Brett starts throwing Cody and Jolie together because he thinks they have the hots for each other and would make a great couple.  He sees Cody helping Jolie to be all she can be and Jolie helping Cody to learn to relax and enjoy life.

The jokes about the poor vs. the rich got old very quickly. There was really no action and I found the lust attacks followed by remorse about their circumstances type of romance to get old really quickly.  There is a cute little romance between Daddy and a teacher and another one between Brett and a maid, but these were clearly sidelights and equally predictable. 

There were times I liked Jolie’s sassiness and her take-it-or-leave-it attitude. Then she would get around Cody and act like an airhead. She fumbled her words; never saying what she meant and bumbled her way around.  Besides the cake incident, there was the bikini malfunction incident and the lust filled “romantic evening” turned sex marathon.  Been there, done that; and seen it done a lot better, too.

Cody on the other hand, was harder to pin down. There was little insight into his psyche so the reader didn’t really know if he was motivated by lust or humiliation or if he really cared for Jolie. Because of the lack of clarity around his character, I never felt good about his relationship with Jolie. In fact, at times, I was rooting for Brett!

McLane has a reputation for writing quirky, sexy tales that blend intelligence, wit, charm and humor into a story that brings a smile to the reader’s face.  Redneck Cinderella didn’t hit all cylinders in any of those four areas. 

--Shirley Lyons

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