Friday, June 11, 2010

"To Die For" by Melanie George

Abby St James is a timid young woman who decides to masquerade as her twin sister Michaela, overseeing the men's magazine that she owns. Why such a wishy-washy wet napkin would believe she could pass for a wild, promiscuous, thrice-married man-eater isn't terribly clear. Anyway, she finds herself overwhelmed by the magazine's publisher, Stefan Massari, who has always been at odds with Michaela over the way the magazine is run. In fact, she faints after their first meeting because he is just so intense. Abby has a deep-seated mistrust of men ever since she was finger-banged against her will in high school. Of course, Stefan manages to break down those walls through repeated seduction attempts that border on sexual harrassment.

Unfortunately for Abby, Michaela has an enemy, and this stalker doesn't know they're stalking the wrong twin.

"To Die For" is the sort of 'romantic' suspense trash that gives the genre a bad name. Like many female authors, a clear distinction is made here between 'good' and 'bad' girls. Only the nice, well-behaved, near-virginal woman is worthy of the swarthy Italian's desire and love. On the other hand, the outspoken, ball-breaking, sexually active woman, by the book's end, has been raped and beaten, presumably for her sins. She even gets to donate a kidney to her 'better' sister so that she can repent. As a male reader, I found these portrayals offensive, and I'd be very surprised if a woman didn't as well. This extends to the character of Stefan, described as the typical exotic, masculine protector of fragile woman. Though it must be said, 'fragile' doesn't even begin to describe Abby. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more weak, irritating and helpless female character anywhere in general fiction.

Perhaps worth a browse just to see how bad it is - open up to just about any page and you'll get a nice dose of florid dialogue or lurid sexual descriptions (usually involving fingering of some type) - "To Die For" is real bottom-of-the-barrel stuff.

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