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REVIEW: Tangled Up in You by Rachel Gibson

Dear Ms Gibson,

Tangled Up In You (Avon Romance)In my last letter to you, I said I wasn’t as happy with I’m In No Mood For Love as I have with lots of your previous books. I’m a much happier camper after reading this book. I like the heroine, I like the hero, I like the heroine’s maloccluded cat. Maddie and Mick have a good reason to get to know each other and a really good reason to break up. I just wish a few things had been different.

Maddie is the third author in the group of friends who live in Boise who, one by one, are finding love. Her specialty is true crime and generally she spends her time interviewing her subjects while they’re shackled and handcuffed to the tables between them and Maddie. She’s heard some true sickos tell her all about how and why they did what they did and also what they’d like to do to her. Fun stuff. But for her latest book, she’s decided to write about something closer to home and about people who can’t be interviewed. After finding some old notebooks at her now-deceased aunt’s house, she’s made the decision to write about the relationship her mother was in and about the night she was murdered when Maddie was only 5 years old.

Maddie knows only the bare facts about the murder and remembers almost nothing about it beyond being hauled off in the middle of the night by the police to the aunt who never wanted children to begin with. Her childhood wasn’t happy but she had the basics. Now she wants to know more about her young mother and the love triangle that lead to that fateful night.

Mick Hennessy and his sister Meg have their own memories of that night and of growing up in the small town of Truly. They remember both good and bad times with their parents, then the shock of losing them, then the continual whispers that surrounded them while growing up. Both would rather leave those times in the past. When Mick first sees Maddie in his bar then runs into her at the local hardware store, his carnal thoughts are unprintable. After finding out that Maddie’s as interested in a hot, brief fling as he is, he becomes a frequent visitor to her lakefront house. As the relationship progresses, he starts to think things he’d never imagined feeling for a woman — permanent things, homey things, white picket fence things. That is, until he finally finds out exactly who Maddie is and why she won’t give up the idea of writing about the night his mother killed his father, a bargirl and then herself.

This book has more of your trademark humor and guy thinking. I laughed a lot while reading it but I also felt the kick in the gut when Maddie reviewed the crime scene information and first visited the site where her mother had been murdered. We get enough of an update on the previous two couples to feel everything’s fine with them and enough of an update on Adele to set up her story but without taking over this book. Yeah. I liked that there’s not as much promo/ad spots as in past books but I noticed a lot of T-shirt descriptions. Like Maddie, I love fragranced lotions, soaps and scrubs but I would hate to go around smelling like a chocolate cake — seems like it would only make you hungry. Mick’s young nephew Travis acts like a seven year old. Mega thanks for that. I also like that we find out what happened that night at the same time that Maddie does.

I also adored Maddie’s hillbilly cat. Cats rule. You do know not to leave a pet in a car during the heat of summer, right? As Maddie learns, cats have no rules as they think rules do not apply to them. They remember when they were worshiped and expect you to do so as well. But the thing I really appreciated in this book is that you give Maddie and Mick time to get over the revelation of Maddie’s real identity. This doesn’t seem like the kind of thing someone could get over/come to terms with in two weeks. You give it about 3 months. Yeah again. I hate it when authors set up some conflict between two people, have a major blowup scene that threatens to ruin any future these two might have had together, then quickly resolves said major, life altering conflict in the span of three days after which everything’s sunshine and harmony forever, amen.

However, I do have a few problems with the story. There’s no real reason for Maddie not to tell Mick who she really is. Even she knows this as you show when she ruthlessly stomps down her conscience. I can see why you wait in order to get these two close enough so that 1) Maddie falls for Mick and 2) Mick falls for Maddie even though he doesn’t admit it at the time but at least he feels close enough to her that her revelation is devastating to him emotionally. Yet with Maddie knowing the whole time that she should tell Mick, then not doing it, it just made me think less of her. I’m not sure why you stuck in the mini-romance with Meg and Mick’s army buddy, Steve. It’s way short even for a secondary love story.

Readers who love your great guy thoughts will enjoy the book. This following passage had me choking back laughter while I secretly read it at work.

(edited for daytime TV) When it was through, she said, “I didn’t mean for that to happen.”

“Let’s make it happen again. Only next time, I’m going to join you.” He brushed his wet fingers across the tip of her breast and lowered his mouth to her lips and fed her his need and greed and uncontrolled lust.

She pulled back from the kiss and gasped. “You have condoms? Right?”

“Yes.”

Bare from the waist up, she took his hand and led him into the house. “How many do you have on you?”

How many? How many? “Two. How many do you have?”

“None. I’ve been celibate.” She closed the door behind them, then turned to face him. “We’re going to have to make those two condoms last all night.”

“What do you have planned?”

“I’m going to use you for your body.” She sucked the side of his neck and shoved his pants and boxer briefs to his knees. “You don’t mind. Do you?”

“God, no.”

“You’re a beautiful man, Mick Hennessy.” She brushed her thumb over the head. “Hard.”

No shit.

“Big.”

Mick sucked in a breath. “You can handle it.”

“I know I can.” She bit the hollow of his throat, then slowly sank to her knees, kissing his belly and abdomen on the way down. “Can you?”

Oh, God. She was going to use her gorgeous mouth on him. His “Yes” came out on a rush of pent-up breath.

“You don’t mind if I use my tongue on you?” She knelt before him and looked up, a little smirk on her red lips. “Do you?”

“Christ, no.”

“Do you like my tongue here?”

“Yes.” God, was she going to talk the whole time?

Yep, there’s some great stuff in this one. Enough for a B grade.

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

5 Comments

  1. Robin
    Aug 07, 2007 @ 21:05:41

    I am still a little gun shy after the last two Gibson books, Jayne, but I agree with you that this book was a definite step in the direction of her classics. I liked the seriousness that Maddie and Mick’s shared history lent their relationship, not the substance of that past, but the fact that it bound them in a way they could choose to change for the future.

    As for Maddie keeping her real identity from Mick, I’m ambivalent about that (note to Jane: ambivalence is my most favorite word, even more than conflation), because had she told him right up front, I think he may have taken his sister’s victimized approach to the situation and eschewed a neutral relationship with Maddie. Or if they became close, would his feelings have come from some weird sense of guilt or responsibility? In keeping it from him, it’s true that Maddie was being dishonest, but that didn’t belittle her in my eyes, because I think it was good for Mick to have to find his own way to forgiving her after realizing he loved her. It made it more difficult for him to ignore what REALLY happened and to face the fact that if anyone had a right to feel like a victim it would be Maddie (but she didn’t). I don’t know; I liked the untidiness of the emotional connections here, and I thought they made sense. And at least the stakes were higher than in See Jane Score, where Jane keeps her identity from Luc.

  2. AAR Rachel
    Aug 07, 2007 @ 21:31:52

    I haven’t been totally nuts about the last several Gibson books, but because of your review, I’ve put my name on the library list for this one. We’ll see [fingers crossed].

  3. Jayne
    Aug 08, 2007 @ 07:18:05

    Robin, I think if Gibson hadn’t made such a big deal about Maddie keeping her true identity from Mick, it wouldn’t have bothered me as much. But she did, so it did. It all seemed like such a typical “romance book” plot device to me.

  4. Robin
    Aug 08, 2007 @ 11:46:20

    Jayne, you mean all the hand wringing and soul searching and OMG what if he finds out and general neurosis Maddie exhibited around keeping the truth from Mick? LOL, I sure can’t argue with you there. I’ve noticed lately a real intolerance for heroines who project the END OF THE RELATIONSHIP in detailed and melodramatic terms over and over and over and over again. You know, the “I can’t have him for forever, but I can have him for tonight,” and “this is the last time we’ll ever boink” internal monologuing that MAKES ME CRAZY. I know authors think it amps up the tension in getting readers to root for the ultimate commitment, but since we KNOW it’s going to end up there anyway, I just find it an annoying waste of word count. So yeah, lol, I think I know what you mean.

  5. che
    Aug 08, 2007 @ 22:29:54

    I give this one a B as well, but unlike you, I thought her trademark humor was missing, except for the scenes with the cat. I actually liked I’m In No Mood For Love- an A for me, better than this one.

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