Good Girls Don’t
by Kelley St. John
(Warner, $6.50, R) ISBN 0-446-61720-2
**
St. John’s debut for Warner Forever has too much of everything – too many characters, too many over-the-top plot points, and too much focus on sex. The only thing it doesn’t have is too much of is character development.

Collette “Lettie” Campbell left small town Sheldon behind for life in the big city – Atlanta, Georgia. While she has dreams of being a fashion designer, she knows she needs money to launch that dream. That is why she’s working for My Alibi – a company that provides alibis to clients who need a little help keeping up their lies. Essentially Lettie covers for serial cheaters.

As a favor to her sister Amy, Lettie agrees to help out her friend, Erika, who wants to spend a week with a man she thinks might be The One. Only Erika has an overprotective uncle who would flip out, so she needs a service like My Alibi. However, it is not until after she makes the first cover-up phone call that she realize she’s made a terrible mistake. Erika’s uncle is no other than Bill Brannon – her dearest friend from high school.

Bill has had the hots for Lettie for years – but when they were younger all she could think about was getting the heck out of Sheldon. Now he has a chance to reconnect with her, and he’s determined to be a little bit bad to win over the adventurous girl he’s never gotten over. But what will happen when he finds out that Lettie has been lying to him about his niece?

The first stumbling block to this story might have been that Lettie is a professional liar. I thought this would have been more of an issue for me, but Lettie is suitably torn and distraught over her deception. No, what ultimately makes Good Girls Don’t flounder is the absurdity of the plot.

Lettie’s biggest problem at the start of the novel is that her former boyfriend couldn’t find her G spot. Sister Amy designs sex toys for a living and Erika’s dream man is a biker dude named Butch. On top of that, all these characters seem to do is talk about sex or have it. Meaningful conversation is nil, which is surprising given that Lettie and Bill haven’t seen each other in 12 years. Don’t you think they’d have a lot to catch up on?

There are essentially three romances in this story, but little attention is given to any of them. Besides Bill and Lettie, there is Amy and the hot cowboy she works with. Also, is Butch the one for Erika or is it the sweet college boy she meets at the beach? None of these characters really talk to each other outside of sexual innuendo, and when they do, it all takes place off stage so the reader isn’t privy to it. This ultimately means that character development suffers. Sure the sexy scenes are fun to read, but the characters are never fully explored. One gets the impression that Lettie and Amy both have serious baggage from their mother – which is mentioned in passing but never delved into. Erika experienced a rebellious period after her mother’s death, again mentioned briefly in passing. Then there’s the minor fact that younger Lettie stomped all over younger Bill’s feelings for her. These issues would have added a lot to the characters, but instead readers are treated to a non-stop sex talk and escapades.

There is a lot of stuff crammed into this story, and yet it is not a filling meal. Toning down some of the over-the-top plot points and focusing more on the characters lives outside of their sexual appetites would have gone a long way in making this a more fulfilling read.

--Wendy Crutcher


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