The Time of Aspen Falls by Marcia Lynn McClure
The Time of Aspen Falls is a plotless love story set in modern day Albuquerque, New Mexico. It revolves around Aspen Falls, a twenty something book store clerk and her ultimate dream guy, Rake Locker, who happens to be the very essence of what a real man should be. If the storyline redeemed the choice of names, I would have forgiven MLM, but there simply is no story.
Aspen and her best friend Gina are supposed to be twenty-something-year olds who seem to have their own apartments and jobs, but still spend time sitting in a tree that they have played in since they were little girls. They are ridiculously silly and their dialogue is reminiscent of speaking to my 91-year old grandmother. They enjoy watching Leave it to Beaver, who as a 23-year old, I have never watched a full episode and doubt very much that my peers would enjoy such a show. This horrible habit of Marcia Lynn McClure's, that is mentioning song titles and TV shows, is perhaps a personal preference, but I like my stories to be timeless. And when such specific mention of Actresses, current fads, etc. are mentioned, it bugs me. Not to mention that Aspen and Gina were drooling over an 80-year old man (who turns out to be Rake's grandfather) and Sean Connery. The current 20-something-year old, especially the younger versions, probably do not even know who Sean Connery is! Other mentions of iPods, Angelina Jolie, and Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books were not only unnecessary, but oftentimes ridiculous.
If I had been able to read the Author's Note before purchasing the book, it might have changed my mind as to whether or not I paid for it. Marcia admits that there is much of herself put into the story. I don't have a problem with that, except Marcia isn't 20-something, and it shows through her characters that she doesn't seem to know how a real 20-something-year old actually speaks and what their interests are. Her use of the word "cool" was just silly at times, and trust me, there was a lot worse. The obsession with the Balloon Fair was over done, the mention that Rake wears white underwear made me throw up a little in my mouth, and Gina's fetish with UPS guys was completely unfathomable and uncomfortable.
MLM's hero and heroine is patented. They are basically all the same in all of her books. There is a reason I have read all of her books - it works. However, in The Time of Aspen Falls, Rake was just too perfect. Except his name. Rake Locker. Rake Locker? I wanted to throw my book across the room in disgust when I read his name. And unfortunately, I came across that feeling more than once as I read. The costume party where he dresses up as "Rochester Darcy - the vampire" made me want to scream at somebody. The fact that he was a Victorian Cowboy (professional rodeo champion, by the way), that wore Nike (again with the modern-day mention of a brand) basketball shoes while running, was the perfect physique and still had perfect manners, morals, and standards, was too too much. Not to mention is was a Master Clockmaker, and a pretty successful one at that. Of course he was. His family was perfect. He was perfect. He disgusted me.
Their relationship was something incredibly perfect as well. Apparently they were mutually attracted to each other for weeks - from the moment they laid eyes on each other, they knew that they were going to fall in love. It took a crazy phobia attack to get them to finally meet, but then after that, it all moved so quickly. They were immediately in love, even though they didn't really know each other. Throughout the story there is mention of past heartbreak, a name attached to it even, but no real explanation for any of it. Gina's story is even more ridiculous - it leads to a make-out session on the day she MEETS her dream guy.
Over all, I wasted a few hours of my weekend reading this book. Worse, I wasted money I didn't have buying this book. I knew that The Time of Aspen Falls was going to be cheesy and typical. But I enjoy MLM's Westerns and Regency books (at least they leave Donny Osmond, UPS, and Edward out of it)and have liked a FEW of her modern ones; though, they tend to get increasingly worse. If she would leave out her personal convictions and work on developing the characters, while allowing for a little flaw in her hero and a little more confidence in her heroine, she would do a lot better.