21 November 2013

Plain Jane


Synopsis: Back in college, Jane Lewis would have given anything to be like homecoming queen Connie Bryan. Instead she was just Plain Jane – overweight, frumpy, and painfully shy. That was then. Today, a lovely and confident Dr. Jane Lewis has a thriving psychotherapy practice, her own radio talk show, a beautiful old Louisiana mansion, and her affectionate, nutty dog, Olive, to keep her company. The only thing missing is someone to share her life.

Jane has never forgotten Michael Sorenson, the boy she'd admired from afar in college. Now, he's inspiring her to hope for a future together. She's also never forgotten the brutal, unsolved attack that ended Connie Bryan's life – and haunts Jane still. Suddenly, the present collides with the past, as she finds clues into the identities of Connie's attackers – clues that send her into a world of risk and excitement, challenging her to become a truly extraordinary woman...if she dares.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Kensington Publishing Corp, 2001; 345 pages; given to me by a BookCrossing member.

My thoughts: I've only read two other books by Fern Michaels. The first one, LATE BLOOMER, I loved. So much that I read it in one day, and then immediately looked up Ms. Michaels' back list and added all of her books to my wish list.

Next I read FINDERS KEEPERS, and I liked it for the most part, but I didn't love it the way I loved LATE BLOOMER.

I still had high hopes for this third book, but they were dashed pretty quick. The prologue moved quickly, as Jane and Connie are walking from the library to their dorm together one night at the end of their senior year, and are attacked by a group of boys who rape Connie. Connie insists that Jane not tell anyone what happened, and Jane, against her better judgment, agrees to keep the secret. She later finds out at graduation that Connie had committed suicide.

Fast forward to the present day. Jane is now a successful psychiatrist, and is still burdened by the guilt she carries around for never going to the police or telling anyone what happened to Connie.

I never connected with Jane. She was likeable enough at first, but as the book progressed she became shrill and demanding and self-centered, and I had a very hard time liking her or caring about her. She begins seeing a new patient, a man who's wife had been raped, and he's been unable to deal with it. Talking to this patient brings back all of her memories, and her guilt, and eventually a determination to find the men who raped her friend in college and see that justice is served.

The building relationship with Mike is about the only believable plot line. Jane's godmother, Trixie, adopts a retired police dog, and her antics with the too smart to be true dog are just so out there. He's depressed, and she decides he misses working, so she buys an old police car and hides baggies of marijuana on her property and then takes him out at night, lights flashing and sirens blaring, so he can look for them. I know they live out in the country, but I still can't believe there isn't at least one neighbor close enough to complain about the sirens.

Jane also has a dog who is unrealistically capable and intelligent, and there is the ghost of a teenage boy living in Jane's home, appearing to her when she thinks she must be asleep and dreaming, which I found a little creepy.

Between Jane's efforts to track down Connie's rapists, Trixie and her police dog, the mystery of the ghost boy's death, and a couple of other side stories that have Jane sneaking around peeking into her new patient's windows trying to get a glimpse of his wife and punching another therapist in the face...convoluted is the only word I can think of.

Will I give up on Fern Michaels? No, I won't. Because based on that first book of hers I read I know she can please me. Just not with this one. But she has so many others, I'll keep searching for another winner.

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