Fever, by Linda Winstead Jones

>> Sunday, April 25, 2004

I hesitated to buy Fever, by Linda Winstead Jones, basically because it's a late entry in the very long Family Secrets continuity series. This is a series I haven't read. Or rather, I've read the reviews of the books that are in it, so I have a vague idea of what's what, but I don't really understand the intrincacies of the overarching plot, so I feared I'd be completely lost. Still, the plot sounded interesting, so I thought I'd try.

Called to Carson County, Montana, to find a cure for a deadly epidemic, renowned epidemiologist Faith Martin never thought shed become entangled in a seductive battle of the sexes. Luke Winston, her new "partner," was a heart-stoppingly handsome man who challenged her every decision . . . and awoke unsuspected desires within her. With each hour that passed, their passion escalated, and the stakes were getting higher. Ruthless scientists were after Faith for information she didnt even know she possessed, putting her life in jeopardy. Now Faith had to figure out a way to reckon with her mysterious past so she and Luke could have a future together.
I was right to think that the plot was interesting. I was also right to think that I'd not really completely get all the stuff about the genetic experiment, but in the end this wasn't my main problem in the book. What almost ruined everything were the many, many details which stank of series romance clichés. A C-.

This would have been much better simply as a medical thriller / romance. That part of it was nicely done, and the whole thing about how Faith was in reality the product of secret experiments, a genetically engineer super-woman, now prey of the shady organization that made the experiments, was a distraction. The bare bones were interesting enough (though, I repeat, I'd have preferred if it hadn't even appeared), but I was at a distinct disadvantage by not having read the previous books, since those parts felt too spare.

The little things that made the book a chore to read were not very important each in themselves, but they accumulated, and there were so many of them that the sheer volume was overwhelming. Let me just list some:

- Luke's irrational, completely unexplained hostility towards Faith in the beginning of the book. Ok, so you are a small town doctor whose town has fallen victim to an unknown epidemic. You are completely out of your depth. A specialized epidemiologist comes to help with her team, do you become hostile or do you feel relief that someone who might be able to help is finally there? Luke really comes across as stupid and mysoginist, here.

- What are the odds that Luke would be allowed to keep control of a situation like the one that was developing in his town? With something like that, I'd be willing to bet big money that at the first news of the outbreak, specialized scientists would come running to take over!

- In a move soooo typical of series romance, Luke's first wife is demonized for not wanting to live in a small town, but Dr. "He'd put down solid roots and hadn't been willing to give them up for Karen" Winston gets off scot free. It's not his fault that his marriage was a failure! It's the woman who should compromise.

- Luke takes Faith into his home and that walking old plot device who takes care of Luke's daughter gets an unnatural sparkle in her eyes because she decides Faith is "the one". Do all these women have no lives, other than matchmaking for their bosses?

- Faith was practically dead below the waist before she met Luke. Her couple of romances didn't work "because she was no great beauty". What, didn't she look around and see that most people are no great beauties, and yet people still fall in love? Oh, and of course, even her only attempt to dance had been a disaster, because she got all confused.

- Faith is soooo conscious of her biological clock. And then there's that very distasteful scene where she goes on all "impregnate me! I'm really fertile today!"

- The idiot Faith keeps insisting she's fine, that she hasn't been programmed. Oh, no, she'd know if she had been! Never mind the fact that she has been told all the siblings were programmed, and there's no reason why she'd be the exception. Why would she deny it, when any person with a normal IQ would be careful, just in case? No reason, she's just TSTL.

- Of course, Faith proves her worth by taking care of Luke's daughter and enjoying being coated in baby food. I guess the idea is that readers should find these scenes heartwarming or something, but I find them just tedious and think they reinforce the imbecile idea that a woman is a real woman only if she likes to take care of kids.

These are just a few things. Too many for me to be able to tolerate the book, even if the plot was one I enjoyed.


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