The Merry Widows: Catherine
by Theresa Michaels
(Harlequin Historical #400, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-29000-4
Eh. I know it's not a "word" but it perfectly suits the way I feel about this book. Is it any good? Eh. I've read worse. Does that mean it's okay? Eh. I've read better. Is it worth a recommendation? Eh. Not really. Did I like the characters? Eh. They were okay. How 'bout the plot? Eh, the usual. I think you get the picture.

I'm just trying to be succinct here. The Merry Widows: Catherine, is just…well…sort of…blah. I know, I know, you're reading this going, "Hey, that's some literate reviewer you've got there. 'Eh' and 'blah' – real in-depth reviewing. But the problem with this story is that it doesn't require in-depth reviewing because it has no depth. Oh sure, there is a cursory plot line about the heroine refusing to be controlled by a man, but from the start you know that's just a plot convenience.

Catherine Hill lives in a New Mexico town in a year I'm guessing is somewhere in the 1880s, in a house she has previously shared with two other beautiful young widder-women (how convenient). Catherine's husband died some unnamed death two years before, leaving Catherine independent and, excuse me for being blunt, horny.

Into town rolls Gregory Michael Mayfield III, the brother of Catherine's oldest friend and a perfect match for Catherine in the Horndog department. Recovering from a recent illness, Greg has made a convenient-for-the-plot (not to mention silly) bet with his sister that places him in Catherine's care. They dance around each other for days all the while burning up with passion. The Easterner's tongue is practically dragging on the ground from the moment he sees Catherine. The couple continually talk in double-entendres. "The sound you hear is the cow." "What's wrong with her?" "She needs…" Catherine paused, then smiled. "She is in need of relief." Yeah. Whatever

Anyway, by the time these two finally get down to business, I'd lost what little interest I had. The story picked up a little when Catherine delivered her "I am woman" ultimatum, but by that point…eh…who cares.

It's not just that I found the characters completely libido-driven with nothing remotely interesting in the way of personalities, but being the stickler for details that I am (sorry, I'm a Virgo, I can't help it), there were gaps in the story that just started to annoy me. Why didn't Catherine inherit her dead husband's money and if she didn't, who did? Catherine and Greg's sister grew up together and Catherine remembers Greg from childhood. In spite of having spent the intervening years in New York, he acts as if he's never so much as seen a cow. Didn't he grow up in the same neighborhood? Shouldn't he know what a mop looks like? He was in the army but he served out his enlistment in Europe? American soldiers in Europe in the 19th century? Where and when? And wouldn't he at least know how to make coffee?

Maybe I'm wrong in questioning these little details, but they jumped out at me, which in and of itself means something isn't quite right. If I'm involved in a story, I don't have time to look for inconsistencies.

--Ann McGuire

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