The Cop and Calamity Jane
by Elane Osborn
(Silh. Int. Mom. #923, $4.25, PG-13) ISBN: 0-373-07923-0
****
Sometimes I get worried that am getting too easy in my ratings of the books I am reading. I seem to have been giving out an awfully lot of four heart ratings recently. Then I remember the ultimate criteria that I apply to the books I review. Did I enjoy the story? Since I enjoyed Elane Osborn's new SIM release, the only possible thing I can do is to recommend it.

Calliope Jane Chance has a history: a history of causing disasters, or so she thinks. It seems that whenever she is around, bad things happen to good people. The latest "bad thing" is a plumbing disaster in the room above her in the San Francisco motel where she is staying. Seems the faucet broke, the water poured out, and now Callie sits there soaking wet as the firemen try to mop up the results. Callie is convinced that she is indeed MissChance!

What really complicates matters is that Callie is also being interviewed by the police, by Detective Marcus Scanlon to be exact. It turns out that the police were staking out the room above hers. They believed that its occupants were the perpetrators of a recent cat-napping. Prominent San Franciscan Gerald Harding's prize winning Russian blue, Electra, had been purr-loined and the city's finest had been ordered to find that cat.

Marcus has to wonder if Callie is involved, especially when he can sense that she is holding something back about what has brought her to San Francisco from Cape Cod. She also accidentally ran into the man and woman from the room above her although her memory is hazy about their appearance. When Callie is involved in a hit-and-run accident the next day, he has to wonder whether she knows more than she is telling. So he arranges for her to take up residence in his apartment building where he hopes Zoe, his therapist landlady, can use her hypnosis skills to get a fuller description. He also wants to know the truth about why Callie has come to the city by the bay.

Callie is not exactly anxious to come clean, not because she has anything to do with the catnapping, but rather because she has just experienced one more embarrassing disaster in a life that seems too full of the same. As a child, Callie's immature mother had blamed her for all the mother's problems, calling her "Calamity Jane." Since growing up, Callie has come to feel that whenever anyone around her gets hurt or when something goes wrong, it is her fault.

Osborn handles Callie's phobia with a nice combination of humor and sensitivity. Her fears are both perfectly understandable and perfectly groundless. But as she finds herself growing more and more attracted to Marcus, she can't overcome her fear that she will bring disaster to him like she has to everyone else. And she wonders if she can trust her own feelings and judgment, given her two most recent forays into romance.

Marcus has had no time for meaningful relationships with women since his fiancée and best friend betrayed him years ago. He doesn't know what to make of the feelings Callie elicits from him, a combination of protectiveness and admiration, and something else that he doesn't quite want to admit he feels. If he is the prototypical "I-don't-trust-women-because-one-done-me-wrong" hero, he gets over it pretty fast when Callie gets under his guard.

The Cop and Calamity Jane has a much lighter tone than many SIMs. There is no murder and mayhem here, not much danger, and very little violence. After all catnapping isn't kidnapping, however painful it is for the owner. (I'd be the first to admit that I'd be upset if someone napped my cats, but then who would want genus alleycatus?) I did especially appreciate Osborn's description of typical feline behavior when we see Callie adjusting to life with her own particular black cat. You will note that Callie does the adjusting, not the cat.

Osborn has written a most pleasant and enjoyable little romance. I will finish as I began. I enjoyed The Cop and Calamity Jane and I think you will, too.

--Jean Mason


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