on July 2019
Genres: Fiction, Romance
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To Tricia, genuine love looks like a scam. Too good to be true. She lives by her wits and sexy charm. But that’s not always enough. She has Timmy to take care of. And a habit or two to support.Andy McCrae sees the young woman in short-shorts, selling flowers on the street. And then Timmy, her six-year-old son, catches Andy’s attention. Is she taking care of the boy? Can she possibly? Can Andy help? Should he?How far is too far when it comes to helping people in need?Andy doesn’t trust Tricia. But he decides to help her anyway. She might be involved in something illegal, voluntarily or otherwise. But she’s not a character in one of the suspense thrillers Andy writes. She’s strictly small time, as far as he can tell. And she has that little boy. He needs something. A father? Maybe even a mother.And what’s in it for Andy? A rich and successful author, he’s admittedly lonely. Is that his motivation? Or is it bigger than that? Is it real, self-sacrificing love? Or is his offer of help just part of a scam?Tricia thinks so.
Normally when a book is bad, I just don’t review it. The Love Scam is different. It’s so bad I had to review it.
The Love Scam is a poorly-written pile of cringeworthy sentences that I only kept reading because I had to. Under normal circumstances, I would have given up about twenty pages in, when the protagonist questions why the sexy homeless woman was sexually abused:
“I’ve had bosses before and they always want more than just honest work.”
“Always?” It was a genuine question. Has she really been sexually exploited in every job she’s held? How many jobs is that? Could it have anything to do with the way she dresses? Or her free use of sexual language and innuendo? But here is another one of those case which I will defer to the judges. Or to that one ultimate judge.”
And this is after the opening sentence of the novel is “The first time I see her, I notice her tight shorts and her even tighter t-shirt.”
Now maybe Jones is trying to create an unlikable protagonist, one that we’re supposed to hate, but nope. There’s no indication of that throughout the book. In fact, the protagonist seems a little…well…a little like Jones hopes he might be. The entire book is simply Andy the protagonist, a wealthy Christian fiction writer, being a Good Samaritan to Tricia, a sexy homeless woman with a six-year-old son.
There is awkward—and I mean awkward—chemistry between Andy and Tricia. From the first-page ogling, to the twentieth page victim-blaming, to the twenty-fifth page descriptor that Tricia sounds like she’s calling “from a payphone in a house of ill repute.” There are more, but you get the idea. The whole book is Andy as a Hosea-type savior risking his reputation for this homeless woman. (Remember Ted Dekker’s When Heaven Weeps? This is pretty much the same storyline but much, much worse.)
Jones’ writing style is everywhere. The best example of this is the way the novel uses profanity. Personally, I have nothing against books that use profanity. Doesn’t bother me at all. But it’s certainly not typical for Christian fiction because it does bother a large contingent of Christian readers. It’s a risky move without much reward. To mitigate this risk, Jones finds some rather creative ways to drop it in.
When Tricia spells out b-i-t-c-h, Andy thinks that she does so for emphasis rather than to censor herself. This is confirmed a few sentences later when Tricia uses the F-word. Except what Jones writes is “ ‘I’m messing with you.’ Only she doesn’t use the word ‘messing.’” Later in the book, he censors a profanity by typing “sh–.” The most hilariously awkward example was when he used the word “sphincters,” but is sure to tell us that what the character actually said was a profanity. It’s a piecemeal, inconsistent, awkward, and unnecessary tactic that is representative of the entire book.
This book is bad. This book is so bad it made me look up his literary agent (which Jones…helpfully(?)…provides in his own back-cover bio) because I want to avoid any authors his agent thinks is good. Give The Love Scam a major pass. Go read When Heaven Weeps instead. Or Redeeming Love. Or any number of books that have done the same general story in a much better way.