Hers For the Weekend

Sheer Decadence

 
Trouble in Tennessee
by Tanya Michaels
(Harl. Amer. Rom. # 1170, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-373-75174-5
***
Treble James is a DJ on an Atlanta radio station who goes by the name of Trouble J. She took that name because everyone seemed to think she was trouble as she was growing up. In actuality, she was a mixed-up kid who was living with a stepfather who seemed to disapprove of everything she did, and her darling stepsister who seemed to do everything right. At almost thirty years old, she is dreading going back to her hometown of Joyous, Tennessee but is guilted into it by her stepsister, who is going through a very rough pregnancy.

Treble was the bad girl of her age group. First, she was caught kissing a boy who later took her virginity and then told her they were through. Her stepfather, Harrison Breckfield, the CEO of the largest employer in town, expressed embarrassment about her behaviors, which included things like stealing lip gloss from the local drugstore. But her biggest offense occurred when a married man came on to her. When they were discovered, he accused Treble of seducing him and her stepfather believed him.

Now, she is back, trying to placate her very pregnant stepsister, Charity, who is on bed rest until she delivers. They have always been close, yet there are things that have not helped them stay in touch...things like their father and the fact that Charity is his darling who could do no wrong. Charity married her childhood sweetheart, Bill, who is now the second in command of the Breckfield Dairy.

Things start off on the wrong foot when Treble's car dies just outside of town. Charity sends the new doctor in town (who is a close family friend and willing to do her this favor). When he shows up, he is not the old gentleman that Charity seemed to describe. He is Keith Caldwell, a thirty something young doctor trying to start over after several personal losses. Keith befriended the Breckfields and he has almost been accepted as a member of the family. While he and Treble seem to be attracted, she is there temporarily, is not close to her stepdad and has a town of people ready to brand her as the bad girl once again.

The tale follows Keith and Treble as they deal with their feelings of attraction, caring and also how to fit in together when their lives seem so disparate. Treble also has to deal with her past.

This is very familiar territory and the author introduces nothing new. Treble is misunderstood and even though she has built a whole new life, she immediately reverts to her years of teenage angst upon returning to the town. Charity is wholesome, sweet and almost sickeningly optimistic. Keith is a bit of a tortured hero, although his tale is given a much briefer airing than Trebleís. Harrison is the crotchety oldtimer who is loved by everyone but his stepdaughter. And the townspeople want to like Treble but only after she proves she has changed.

Keith is a good enough hero, but he seems wasted on both this town and this heroine. I could never quite see what switched his opinion about Treble from the tales that he has heard from Harrison to the feeling that she was a better person than all that. And he has sunk himself in this small town looking for a switch over the death of his sister many years ago. His story didnít completely fly.

Having said all that, the story moved well and there were scenes that are engaging. The writerís style improved the story and made up for some of the plot twists that could have gone the wrong way. It is the style, the humor and the sweetness that kept things from sinking into the realm of the two-heart review.

Trouble in Tennessee wonít set any records due to its predictable plot, but for pure escapism, it will entertain you.

--Shirley Lyons


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