A 30-something's lovingly sarcastic journey through all of Sweet Valley High, and then some

Archive for the ‘Original Series’ Category

#107 Jessica’s Secret Love

HEY EVERYONE! Jessica Wakefield is TOTALLY EFFING BATSHIT CRAZY!

Now that I have your attention by just all-caps repeating what we already knew, it’s time for the next great Sweet Valley mini-series … *drumroll* … Sweet Valley Scandal! As the back of this book tells us, “Sweet Valley has never been so shocked!” I very much doubt that! This mini-series is mercifully only 2 books long, which is good because I’m still feeling like nothing’s going to top that silly-ass werewolf bullshit.

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This is some Fatal Attraction-style bullshit!

Our story opens after the twins have flown home from London. It’s still summertime, and they’re on the beach babbling about their wolf-man adventures with Lila and Enid. Since Jessica doesn’t really want to hang out with freakin’ Enid, she convinces Lila to go jogging on the beach with her so they can gossip. The girls are talking about how they need some new guys because it’s been a whole two days since Jessica was dating anyone, when just then! An errant Frisbee hits Jess in the head and knocks her ass over. Two hot men run over to apologize. The one who threw the Frisbee at Jessica introduces himself as Robby Goodman and offers to buy her a soda, which Jessica turns down. So he goes off with Lila (more about that later), and the older one takes one look at Jess, and they fall head over heels in love at first sight. No, seriously, that’s what we’re supposed to believe happens. They barely said one word to each other. They kiss, but then he flips out and says they can’t be doing this and runs away. Jessica goes back to Liz and Enid and cries she’s met the first man she ever loved since Sam. For fuck’s sake, it was quite literally the last book in which she told Liz the same thing about Robert Pembroke! Now she’s all, “Oh, Robert and I knew it would never last.” Haha, okay, that’s not what you were thinking while imagining yourself becoming Lady Pembroke, Jessica!

Back at the Wakefield house, the days go by and Jessica continues to obsess over her stupid mystery man whose name she doesn’t even know. But Alice Wakefield has some news. You see, apparently Alice’s college roommate, Nancy Marest Gibbons, passed away 3 months ago, devastating Alice. Now Nancy’s daughter, Sue Gibbons, is engaged to be married and she’s contacted Alice about having a California beach wedding or something. So Alice wants to invite Sue to live with them for the next month or so and plan the perfect Sweet Valley wedding, because in this world all weddings take only about a month tops to plan (and if you’re in London, it’s only a couple of days!). The twins think that sounds great and are eager to play wedding planner (again!). Liz even remarks on how of course she can help because she helped plan Mona Whitman’s wedding. So, Sue flies in from New York and moves into Steven’s room, because Steven is away at school. I guess he’s doing summer school. Now that he’s got Billie, maybe he actually doesn’t want to come home every weekend.

We learn that Sue’s only eighteen and her fiance, Jeremy Randall, is 23. Apparently Sue is taking a gap year between high school and college to work an internship in NYC at a conservation group called Project Nature, and that’s how she and Jeremy met. They worked a lot together and got close, so now they’ve decided they may as well tie the knot. Gee, how romantic. When the twins wonder why someone would want to get married so young, Alice does some babbling about how Sue is grieving her mother’s death and so getting married and having kids of her own is probably going to help her get over it. WTF? Anybody ever hear of grief counseling in this damn series? (No, unless the counseling is provided by teenagers at Project Youth) When Sue talks about being engaged, she hints at the twins that they had to get married before they ended up getting “in trouble.” If you’ve seen Dirty Dancing, you know she means “knocked up.” Jessica is jealous that Sue is only 18 and already planning a wedding. I’m having such a hard time buying that Jessica would act like this normally. I guess we could say it’s because she’s still suffering over Sam, but she’s had plenty of flighty adventures since then.

Sue is obnoxiously sweet and, of course, loves everything about Sweet Valley and the twins. However, I feel like we’re supposed to pick up on some kind of hint that Sue isn’t what she seems. Several such “hints” are dropped when the twins show Sue the Sweet Valley Mall and start talking about shopping for the wedding. First of all, Sue is delighted that they can just drive everywhere, which is so un-environmentally friendly for someone working for a conservation org. Then the girls discuss where Sue should register for wedding gifts. As Jessica and Liz are arguing whether Sue will want practical gifts or expensive gifts like china, crystal, and silver – in front of Sue, like she’s not there! – Sue shocks both of them by saying she wants the expensive stuff and Jeremy can have the practical stuff and that she can’t wait to “make out like a bandit.” When they discuss where the couple should go for their honeymoon, Jessica says Paris would be romantic, and Sue agrees. Then Liz barks at Jess – again, in front of Sue, like Sue’s not there – that because Jeremy and Sue work for a conservation non-profit, she’s sure they would rather go somewhere that they can work, like Costa Rica, even though Sue LITERALLY JUST SAID she loves the idea of Paris! Sue meekly agrees that maybe Liz is right. You know, because people who work for non-profits are supposed to be complete martyrs and ignore self-care in favor of working every chance they get. Shut the fuck up, Liz! This is one of many hints that we receive that Sue has no real sense of self. Either that, or she’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Since it’s Sweet Valley, I really have no idea which one it is. Or, you know, she could just be a typical 18-year-old. I know some people mature fast at 18, but I also know we’re not about to find any real-to-life examples of such folks in a Sweet Valley High book.

As the last stop on their mall sojourn, the twins head to the jewelry counter so Sue can look at engagement rings. It seems Jeremy didn’t have time to get her one yet, so Liz wants to see what Sue likes so she can make a mental note to tell Jeremy later. The three girls decide to have some fun by each picking out the engagement ring they would want and showing it to the others. Liz picks a pearl ring, Jessica picks a sapphire ring, and Sue picks a giant diamond solitaire. Of course, there’s a lot of talk about how ostentatious this ring is and more utter shock on the part of Liz at how Sue seems to have expensive tastes. Liz is just dying to find things to look down her nose at people for, without actually offering any real assistance, like talking about a budget. Later on, Sue tells Liz that her father was never able to give her mother a proper ring, so that’s why the ring is so important to her. Now Liz feels (mildly) ashamed.

Jeremy flies into town from New York and comes over to the Wakefield house to have dinner … and surprise, Jeremy Randall is the same guy that Jess kissed on the beach. Jessica is shocked out of her gourd as Sue screams with glee at the sight of him and throws herself into his arms. Jessica runs off to the bathroom to throw water on her face and have a minor breakdown. At the dinner table, she has to listen to them excitedly talk about wedding plans, of course, egged on by everyone else. It seems Sue wanted to get married at a big cathedral in town or something, but Jeremy wants to do a beach wedding so that’s what they’re doing. After dinner, the couple leave to go make out at the beach (that’s basically what they tell everyone they’re doing), and Jessica breaks down and tearfully tells Liz that Jeremy is the guy who kissed her. Liz says maybe Jeremy was just sowing one last wild oat and is moving on now and that Jess should too. She also blames Sue for the incident: “If Sue were really strong within herself, maybe Jeremy wouldn’t be attracted to other women.” She’s on some dumb kick about self-empowerment for women, and I guess self-empowerment for women means blaming yourself when your partner can’t stay faithful to you. Liz then starts preaching about Jessica being attracted to men who are already taken because Jessica is also not “strong within herself”. So Jessica throws Liz’s bullshit right back in her face by reminding her of how she went after Bruce Patman even though he was dating Pamela. Liz starts making stupid excuses about how that was DIFFERENT. Hahahaha, hypocrite Liz is not strong within herself. (Wait till we get to the sub-plot!)

Jessica can’t get over this dude to whom she’s barely spoken two whole sentences, so she launches a plan to steal him from Sue. The morning after the dinner, Jessica wakes up to find a note on the kitchen table from Liz, who says she’s taken Sue to the “Fern Street Bookshop” to buy a wedding planner, and she’ll be back later to pick her up and then go get Jeremy. But when Jeremy calls, Jessica lies and says that Liz is going to meet them at the mall so they can show him the ring Sue liked and tells him to come over so she can take him there. On the way to the mall, Jeremy tries to talk to her about their kiss on the beach, but Jessica plays dumb. When they get to the jewelry store, she has Jeremy guess which ring Sue wanted and he chooses the one Jessica liked. The saleslady, assuming Jessica is Jeremy’s fiancee, then has Jessica try it on. Awkward! I like the way there wasn’t a salesperson to be found when the three girls were in there earlier. Jessica shows Jeremy the ring Sue really chose and he buys it, with his “eyes widening at the price.”  Jessica then admits that she lied to Jeremy about Liz meeting them, because she wanted them to be alone together. Oh yeah, they also run into Bruce Patman and Jessica tells him to get lost.

Back at the Wakefield homestead, Sue mentions that she and Jeremy are going to eat dinner at the Carousel restaurant that night, so Jessica quickly starts calling up random guys to take her there so she can attempt to make Jeremy jealous. Aaron, A.J., and Winston all turn her down, but she manages to convince Bruce Patman of all people, even though he mentions he’s got to be careful because he nearly lost Pamela after he was running around with the other Wakefield. (And even though Jessica was just super rude to him in front of Jeremy at the mall.) Bruce tells Jessica she’ll have to pay for the dinner herself even though he’s filthy rich. For the date, Jessica borrows Liz’s aquamarine silk sheath with a matching bolero jacket with “white piping.” That’s a uh, interesting picture. At the restaurant, Bruce pisses Jessica off by ordering all sorts of expensive shit off the menu. They argue at the table while simultaneously trying to fake looking romantic because Sue and Jeremy are watching them (with great interest, since Jessica was just rude to Bruce at the mall earlier). It’s actually pretty funny. When Jessica realizes Jeremy is about to present Sue with the engagement ring over at their table, she runs over to interrupt them. Sue invites them to sit down and have dessert with them, and Jeremy starts getting pissy at Bruce and making dumb threats about how he’d better treat Jessica right. Jessica loves it, of course. Jeremy and Bruce act like they’re about to come to blows, so Jessica and Bruce leave without ordering dessert and it’s not even clear Jessica paid for their meal. Sue doesn’t seem super disturbed by the fact her fiance was about to punch out some guy he just met.

Jessica finishes the night off by giving Bruce a kiss on the mouth for no apparent reason. I guess she either forgot nosy Caroline Pearce lives in her neighborhood, or she thought it would be cool if Pamela had another Wakefield-twin related reason to dump Bruce again.

The next morning at breakfast, Sue gleefully shows off her engagement ring while Jessica searches for some cereal that “isn’t good for you” to get over her pain. Haha! A couple days previous, she was eating “medicinal ice cream”. Isn’t this the type of eating that Liz and Jess were always looking down their noses at Robin Wilson and Lois Waller for doing? Liz and Jess then take Sue out shopping for bridal gowns. They end up at a shop called Bridal Glory where Jess tries to push the ugliest dresses she can find on Sue, while Liz gives Jess the evil eye. Sue finally finds a great dress that looks good on her. She also exposes that Jessica was with Bruce at the restaurant last night by trying to gossip about it with the twins. Liz figures out what Jessica was up to and is pissed as hell that Jess was obviously trying to mess shit up – especially because Sue just asked both twins to be her bridesmaids, because of course she did!

Liz takes Sue to look at possible beaches for the wedding site, where Sue frets about what will happen if it rains on her wedding day, and mentions maybe the cathedral wedding she wanted with the country club reception would be better. Liz encourages Sue to do what she wants, but then Sue relents and reiterates that she wants whatever type of wedding Jeremy wants. OK, I’m confused.  So Sue voices that she wants more expensive options for the ring, the honeymoon, the registry, etc. and Liz looks down on her for that and pushes more economical options, but then when Sue starts talking about wanting a wedding that’s probably going to cost more, Liz is all about how Sue should do what she wants. What? I like how Liz is mad that Jess is trying to interfere with the wedding and can’t just mind her own business, while Liz herself has her own special brand of interference. Although, I gotta say, apparently Jeremy is paying for everything. What kind of non-profit does this man work at?

Meanwhile, Jessica gets a manicure and then comes home to take a swim, which is interrupted by Alice Wakefield and Jeremy. Alice is fretting because she was supposed to take Jeremy to the caterers to meet Sue and Liz for an appointment, but now she has to go do some other shit and needs Jessica to take him. Jess is only too happy. Jeremy drives, and she “accidentally” directs him to Miller’s Point instead. Jeremy is a moron and/or a total cad, so he, a full-grown man, starts wheedling at this 16-year-old girl about how he can’t stand the way she looks at him, then starts kissing her, while babbling about how he’s supposed to marry Sue. I guess we’re supposed to see Jessica as the femme fatale here, but Jeremy is no better. Jessica starts playing hard-to-get again and directs him to leave and gets them to the caterers, late of course. Liz gives Jessica the side-eye because she knows there’s no way Jessica was really “lost”. Liz and Jess listen to Sue and Jeremy argue about what to serve at the wedding. Sue wants lobster, but she also wants champagne, and Jeremy says their budget can’t cover both. He suggests they have chicken if champagne is important to Sue, even though she’s not of age to drink (as he points out, most guests won’t be). Haha, I don’t think anyone really monitors your age at a wedding. Sue finally agrees that chicken and champagne makes sense, and they seem happy.

After the catering meeting, the gang goes to the Dairi Burger where they sit with Robby and Lila, and Jeremy salivates over Jessica licking strawberry milkshake off of her mouth. Then everyone sees Bruce come in with Pamela which raises the ire of Jeremy and Sue since they still think Bruce is Jessica’s steady man. Jessica tries to keep Jeremy and Sue from calling Bruce over to their table, and claims Bruce and Pam are just friends, but then Bruce kisses Pammy. Sue and Jeremy are upset & Jeremy wants to go over and punch Bruce in the face or something because he has some kind of anger management problem. He makes a big deal out of how Jessica doesn’t deserve to be treated that way. Jessica snaps at him and makes a dramatic statement that she does in fact deserve to be loved by someone who loves her and her alone, but that Jeremy is hardly the person to teach Bruce that lesson. Sue looks on with bewilderment, totally confused but ultimately suspecting nothing. EARTH TO SUE. YOU ARE NOT “STRONG WITHIN YOURSELF.”

The next day, Sue takes Liz and Jess bridesmaids’ dress shopping. I should note that Sue does have girl friends flying in from NYC for the wedding, but she’d still rather have the twins stand up for her. She also wastes no time talking about how the twins’ coloring means they’ll end up looking good in anything. It wouldn’t be an SVH book without some kind of reminder that the twins look perfect. Sue picks peach bridesmaids’ dresses, which Jessica starts to insult, until Liz takes her aside and gives her a talking-to. She threatens Jessica by saying if she doesn’t start behaving, Liz will convince Sue that she and Jeremy should elope, and I guess it goes without saying that Sue will be convinced. Oh my god, there’s so much wrong with this fucking story. Run, Sue, run.

Liz’s threats scare Jessica, so she agrees to get the peach bridesmaid’s dress. The ladies then pick up Sue’s dress along with a heap of other accessories. As they walk back to the Jeep, Sue makes a remark about hoping Jeremy likes her bridal underthings, reminding Jessica that newlyweds do often have sex on the wedding night. Jessica flips the fuck out and reacts by deliberately TOSSING SUE’S WEDDING DRESS RIGHT IN THE PATH OF A PICK-UP TRUCK, AND WATCHING IT GET RUN OVER. Oh my GOD. Jessica needs HELP. Sue flips out screaming while Jessica pretends it was an accident, that her arms just magically sprung outward and flung a dress for no real reason. Back home, Alice determines the dress is actually not ruined, just really dirty. Yeah, okay. Alice makes Jessica pay to have the dress dry-cleaned herself, and Jessica pouts because she’s already broke from buying Bruce dinner. But if you think Jessica has hit rock bottom … oh wait, it gets worse!

Sue and Jeremy go to the mall to register for wedding gifts. Recounting this trip to the twins and Alice later, Sue later gets upset because Jeremy thought the china pattern she picked out was “tacky” and he didn’t want any crystal on the registry at all. She starts bawling over it, and Alice reassures her it’s “cold feet.” Alice, Sue, and Liz then leave the house to go run wedding errands while Jessica makes excuses to stay at home. Jeremy is supposed to call later when he’s able to meet up with the others, and Jessica promises to direct him to meet the others when he calls, and once again no one but Liz is suspicious of Jessica’s shit. So Jeremy calls and Jessica tells him to come on over because the others will be back soon. Jeremy is all like “Huh that’s not what Sue said earlier, but I’m sure this isn’t suspicious at all, either that or I just really want to hop in Jessica’s pants.” He shows up with his tux because he wanted to try it on and see how it looks with Sue’s dress – is that really necessary? Jess has him try it on, claiming that this way Sue can see it as soon as she gets back to the house. Jessica then runs upstairs and puts on Sue’s bridal outfit – headpiece, dress, everything – and comes downstairs in it! OH MY GOD THIS IS SOME STALKER BULLSHIT. She then throws herself at Jeremy telling him she knows he loves her and starts kissing him. When he seems less than enthusiastic, she starts bawling hysterically. They end up having a heartfelt talk on the couch and snuggling in Sue’s fucking wedding dress while Jeremy admits he does love Jessica but insists he’s got to marry Sue and begs Jessica to forget him. Jessica reluctantly goes upstairs and tries to get the dress off before the others come back, but the zipper is stuck because, get this, the dress is too small for her! Too small for a Wakefield? Never in a million years did I think these books would actually admit that someone is more petite than a Wakefield twin. Ultimately, Liz has to help Jessica out of the dress, and the zipper sticks and tears so now Liz has to mend it for her pathetic ass sister. It’s times like these that I can either totally see why I’m still doing this SVH series project, or don’t understand why I’m doing it at all!

To help Jessica get over Jeremy, Liz goes to the library, finds a research paper that Jeremy and Sue worked on together, photocopies it, then comes home and shoves the photocopied papers in her sister’s face. She tells Jessica that while Jeremy may not be that crazy about Sue, they obviously have a great deal in common! Yes, that’s a great reason to MARRY SOMEBODY. I HATE YOU LIZ. Somebody PLEASE tell Sue about her damn fiance already!

The Wakefields host an engagement party for Sue and Jeremy at their house, and Jessica puts on some dress that’s supposed to make her look super hot. It’s the one that’s on the cover … not impressed. At the party, Jessica dances with Bruce while Winston dances with Pam, and Jeremy gets jealous. Then Sue stupidly suggests that Jessica should dance with Jeremy. Sue, please make like Sherlock Holmes and get a clue. As they dance, Jeremy tells Jessica how jealous he is of Bruce, and Jessica finally admits they aren’t really dating. Jeremy then moans that he wants to be alone with Jess, so she takes him to some tall hedge on the Wakefield property that we’re just now hearing about. They make out while listening to the partygoers run around trying to find Jeremy for some toast they’re about to have for Sue and Jeremy. Nice!

The sub-plots: There are two. In the first one, Lila gets involved with Jeremy’s friend Robby Goodman (the one who threw the Frisbee at Jessica). He’s 20 and an artist, and supposedly super wealthy. He’s staying at his parents’ mansion for the summer and driving their Lambo … or so he says. Lila and Robby fall in love, but then Lila learns he’s not at all wealthy; in fact he’s really struggling financially as an artist, trying to put himself through school, and just house-sitting for some rich family, or something like that. Lila can’t stand the thought of dating someone who’s not rich, so she dumps Robby. I think she should be more concerned that he lied to her and only revealed the truth once she loved him. Not to worry, Jessica helps get them back together at the engagement party. How nice of her, I guess?

The second sub-plot is hysterical, and so appropriate for Liz. Due to Sweet Valley’s continuous efforts to show that people really do suffer following traumatic events, Liz is having difficulty getting over the fact that she cheated on Todd with a guy who turned out to be a serial killer. (Todd, by the way, is presently away for two weeks visiting his grandma.) Of course, they gloss over the whole “cheated on” part. To try to understand why she trusted a guy who believes in werewolves, Liz starts reading self-help books, and goes on a “self-realization” trip. She starts quoting the books at Jessica extensively, and encouraging her and Sue to get in touch with their “primal woman.” She invites Sue to a special gathering: “Some of my friends and I are going to get together for a girls-only evening to explore our relationships – not only with one another, but with our boyfriends, too.” When I first read that line I thought Liz was hosting an orgy, but the girls are actually just getting together to read from their self-empowerment books and encourage each other, or something. You know how Liz loves to lecture people, so this shit starts getting old real quick. Liz makes Jess so mad at one point that Jess snatches her book away and throws it down the staircase, accidentally (sure!) hitting Sue in the head.

The most hilarious scene occurs when, hoping to help Jessica get over Jeremy, Liz invites drags her to a “primal woman” session held at the local rec center, based off of the book Primal Woman, Woman of Strength. I think maybe they’re doing a parody of the Susan Powter book that was so popular around this time, but I’m really not sure. The Primal Woman session leader has everyone sit in a circle on the floor around a hibachi, which is supposed to represent an ancient fire circle, and everyone receives a fake animal fur to put on. The leader tells them they need to choose new names for themselves to take back their power from the patriarchy. The idea is that your last name, one way or the other, comes from a man’s last name, since last names are traditionally passed down from father to daughter, and never mother to daughter (or not in this group anyway). And so now you’re supposed to take back the power by picking your own name. The session leader calls on Jessica, who says she wants to be known as just “Jessica” a la Cher, Madonna, or Sade, and the session leader has some kind of problem with Jessica just dropping her last name, EVEN THOUGH THAT MATCHES THE WHOLE LINE OF THOUGHT THAT WAS JUST PRESENTED TO EVERYONE. OH MY GOD I’M SO CONFUSED. Liz, meanwhile, declares that her new name is Runs-with-the-Wind. Hahaha, I was about to Run-to-the-Toilet to pee myself laughing the first time I read that shit. Oh my lord, if Liz starts making people call her that in real life … please let this happen in the next book, or don’t, I don’t know if my wine budget (and bladder) are big enough to get me through this shit. The other ladies choose names like Shakara, Lion-Woman, Fire-Maker, Flower-in-the-Sun, and Kolanda and it feels like everyone is just doing some kind of weird pseudo-cultural appropriation. Finally, the session lady encourages everyone to stand up one by one, and unleash their best primal woman scream. When she calls on “Runs-with-the-Wind”, Liz ends up doing a super loud, long, ear piercing scream and I want to plug my ears just thinking about it. Seriously, she can run-to-the-garbage with that bullshit. Jessica renames her “Hurricane-Lungs”.

Sue later says she wishes she could have gone to the primal woman session, because it sounds “so interesting” and yeah, she’s definitely not sorry she couldn’t go. Later on, Enid and Liz lament that they might have to move one of their own “sessions” to accommodate hosting a surprise bridal shower for Sue, and I’m getting worried they might decide to combine the two and gift Sue with nothing but fake animal furs, primal woman books, and a hibachi.

So yeah, now we know what “female empowerment” Liz looks like and it’s utterly useless when it comes to truly helping women. Just stick my finger into an outlet and call me shocked. Oh yeah, and at one point Liz talks to Todd on the phone and tells him she’s been hanging out with her girlfriends and talking about female empowerment, and he gets THREATENED. He says she should be able to share all her problems with him alone, and not with her girlfriends, and tells her that if he wanted to talk to his guy friends about problems and not her, she’d call him sexist. Liz, just throw the whole man away.

On the cover: I had to read the book to understand who’s who. At first I thought that was Jessica plastering herself against the glass to glare at Sue and Jeremy making out, or maybe Sue glaring at Jessica and Jeremy. Nope! Based on the outfits and the hair, it’s Jessica and Jeremy kissing at the engagement party, while fuckin’ Liz is glaring at them through the glass and looks like she’s either plotting to strangle them with that string of lanterns, or maybe do a primal woman scream at them. But in the book itself, Liz doesn’t see them kissing (unless that’s going to be revealed in the next book) because they’re in a damn hedge, not out in the open on the patio!

Other stuff: The Beach Disco now seems to be called the Beach Cafe, or maybe those are two different things.

At the start of the book, Jessica is now big into using sunscreen because she likes the pale look she attained in London.

Lila calls Todd a “drip” and says that Liz’s problem is she’s been dating him for way too long. NAILED IT.

Bruce refers to Pamela as “the only sane girl I’ve ever dated.” Damn, he just slammed everyone on the planet, including his sweet dead girlfriend Regina, whom he totally fucked over. I’M STILL PISSED.

Books that Liz, Enid, Penny, and Cheryl consult to learn how to become empowered women include:

  • Real Women, Bad Men
  • Primal Woman, Woman of Strength
  • Attracting the Love You Want 
  • An unspecified book about African-American women’s issues.

The books with titles all seem to be fictional, which I wanted to check since the series  recently featured a real astrology book. The third book is probably based on the real-life book Getting the Love You Want.

When Jeremy and Sue argue at the caterer’s, the caterer tries to mediate by saying “Children, children.”

There’s a scene where Sue tells the Wakefields that Jeremy is helping Robby change the oil in a car, “or some manly thing like that.” I like how empowered woman Liz says nothing in return.

In one of the scenes where Jessica gets Jeremy to come to the Wakefield house while Jessica is there alone, she considers being out front soaping up the Jeep and dripping wet when he arrives.

We learn that the Carousel is Jessica’s favorite restaurant, despite the fact it’s so freakin’ expensive. I guess she never had to pay her own way there before.

In one of my favorite scenes in the whole book, Lila and Robby show up at the Carousel for dinner and unexpectedly run into Jessica and Bruce as they’re there trying to show off for Jeremy and Sue. Lila expresses shock at seeing the two of them together and remarks that if Bruce were there with Liz, she’d understand. OW, I felt the heat from that burn.

We also learn that Lila Fowler hates jogging which doesn’t surprise me at all.

Sue seems to have chosen Moon Beach as the wedding site. Moon Beach is the same one featured prominently in The New Elizabeth.

From the mouth of Lila Fowler: “Oh, shut up. You know I get plenty of exercise. I must have gone around the entire mall twice yesterday, looking for a new pair of sandals.”

Coming up next: We find out if this story ends with Jessica bringing a knife to Sue and Jeremy’s nuptials!

Fun fact: I marked my place in this book with a bookmark I’d saved from the copy of 1994 Hotscopes Leo I purchased at Waldenbooks 25 years ago, which would’ve been several months before this SVH book came out. Anyone remember the Hotscopes books? They had daily horoscopes for teens. I don’t have my copy anymore unless it’s hiding somewhere!

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The World of Sweet Valley: Meet Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield (A free promotional book)

This next book that I’m going to recap is quite a bit different from the others. In truth, I didn’t even know it existed until someone sent it to me several years ago.

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As you can see from the cover, this book was a free promotional item handed out with purchase of any book in any Sweet Valley series. It’s not technically a Sweet Valley High book, although that is the series it talks about the most – it was released under the overarching brand “The World of Sweet Valley.” The copyright date is June 1994. The book is surprisingly easy to find online; you can order used copies from various vendors on Amazon.com, for example. Still, I don’t think it’s worth it for any but the most die-hard Sweet Valley fan as this is almost entirely content you can get elsewhere, as I’ll soon explain, since I’m recapping it anyway because it’s what I want to do with my life today.

The cover shows twin art from four of the series running at the time:

  • Sweet Valley High (debuted October 1983; twins age 16 and in grade 11)
    • See how they have the twins’ faces in a big neon heart? You could actually get that heart somehow as a light-up wall sign. I saw where someone posted a photo of hers once. When I think about seeing the twins staring down at me from within a glowing wall-heart, I feel frightened.
  • Sweet Valley Twins (debuted July 1986; twins age 12 and in grade 6 – something does not compute)
    • At the time this book was released, the series had been renamed “Sweet Valley Twins and Friends” (& I recall hating the new name)
    • The artwork (lower left corner) is from the SVT book The Great Boyfriend Switch
  • Sweet Valley Kids (debuted October 1989; twins age 7 and in grade 2)
    • I dislike this artwork, which is not what the twins originally looked like on the covers when the Kids series first debuted.
  • Sweet Valley University (debuted September 1993; twins age 18 and college freshmen)
    • The photo is from the first book in the series, College Girls. The cover models are pretty, but they look older than 18 to me.

The book contains samples from all four of these series. Interestingly, there’s no mention of The Unicorn Club, which was a new series out for just 6 months when this book came out. You’d think they’d want to promote the hell out of that!

On the back of the book, there’s a brief letter from Francine Pascal:

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The book opens with Elizabeth narrating (of course). She babbles on about herself and her twin, California girls bla bla, then gets into the theme of the excerpts, which is “twin switches”. Oddly, the book doesn’t tell us exactly which book each excerpt is from (or even which series, although that part is obvious for anyone who pays attention). Not sure this is the best way to promote the books to people who are reading this book because the promo attracted them to the series for the first time, but ok.

The first excerpt, from the Kids series, is supposedly how the twin switching “all started.” I don’t recognize this excerpt, but I think it’s from Sweet Valley Kids #16, Jessica the TV Star (1991). Todd’s house is being used to film some kind of TV special. Todd has a bit part and has been asked to find a girl to star with him in the brief clip, so he picks Elizabeth … only Liz is home sick from school that day, so he mistakenly asks Jessica instead. Jessica shows up for filming pretending to be her sister, but can’t handle that Todd has the only speaking part in the clip – answering a phone – and she’s supposed to just sit there, so she tries to grab the phone away from him and they have to keep re-shooting the scene. When Liz comes back to school the next day, she slowly figures out that Jessica is hiding something from her. She rides by Todd’s house on her bike and is surprised to see it packed full of people. It turns out Jessica blabbed about the special to her friends, and now the entire class has shown up to watch. Liz comes in and exposes Jessica’s twin switch to Todd who isn’t thrilled, but the director is delighted that there are twins and re-shoots the scene with both of them. What’s more, he loves how Jessica tried to grab the phone from Todd before, so he incorporates that into the scene – only he has Liz do it this time while Jessica continues to just sit there. Jessica is taught a lesson. Haha, psych! She’ll never learn any lesson.

Jessica introduces the next excerpt by explaining that Liz isn’t the goody-goody everyone thinks she is and that she has just as many faults as everyone else, but is better at hiding them. LOLLLL. The excerpt is from Sweet Valley Twins and Friends #66, The Great Boyfriend Switch (1993) which I remember buying and reading. The story in that book is that Liz is dating Todd and Jessica is dating Aaron Dallas. Then at the Valentine’s Day dance, Jessica abandons Aaron to dance with Bruce Patman, whom she starts kissing in front of everyone. Meanwhile, some biotch named Veronica Brooks is trying to steal Todd from Liz, and doing a great job at it because Liz and Todd are both wimps. Liz and Aaron wind up bonding over their shared misery, then they start kissing and dating. The twins end up outraged at one another, and the excerpt is about how Liz and Jessica independently decide to fix things with Todd and Aaron by impersonating one another at some big party someone is holding. Jessica, posing as Liz, is interrupted mid-make-up with Todd by an angry Veronica, and she confronts Veronica for stealing a locket that Todd had given Liz and they get in a shoving match at the party, which ends with “Liz” flying through a patio door at “Jessica’s” feet. The twins then realize what they were willing to do for one another to fix shit and make up. The plan also works on Todd and Aaron because those dummies are too dim to realize that Liz and Jess have switched, even though each girl keeps accidentally referring to “herself” in the third person, blatantly not acting right, and shit like that. When Todd and Aaron move in to kiss and make up with Liz and Jessica, the girls quickly make excuses and dash off to switch clothes, then run back outside to hook back up with their respective 12-year-old doofus beaus.

The third excerpt is from one of the SVH werewolf books I just recapped, A Date with a Werewolf. Liz introduces it by sheepishly explaining how she fell for Luke Shepherd (and totally glossing that shit over – she puts it as “we became close”). She also says that Joy Singleton’s throat had not only been ripped out, but “chewed on.” Haha, that’s a nasty detail that I am 99.9% positive was not actually in the werewolf books. The excerpt, which I think was altered slightly in the beginning to start less abruptly, covers how Liz impersonated her sister in order to prowl around Pembroke Manor looking for clues.

Finally, Jessica introduces an excerpt from one of the Sweet Valley University books (no clue which one). This is the only one of these four series that I never read any of, but I’ve heard a good amount about it. Basically, Jess and Liz are pledging the Thetas, a sorority that their mother was supposedly part of. (Hippie Alice was part of a sorority?)  Jessica dances with a black man and the president of a fraternity starts giving them shit over it because he’s a racist POS. Liz tells the frat prez off in front of everyone, and then she gets a note from the sorority president telling her she has to apologize to the president for offending him and go on a date with him to prove her loyalty to the Thetas. OK, so the Thetas are obviously garbage, and Liz refuses to do it.  Jessica is so afraid that Liz will get them blackballed that she impersonates Liz and goes on a date to the homecoming football game with racist frat boy, who predictably acts like a douche the entire time. Jessica as Liz even makes an impassioned plea for forgiveness. OMG, this is so gross. Liz skipped the game to study (of course), but Steven and girlfriend Billie are there and they see “Liz” with racist frat boy and are appalled. Steven confronts Liz after the game (which Billie has some kind of problem with because she thinks Steven is acting too much like an overbearing dad or something). Liz quickly realizes it was Jessica and pledges to get back at her. Jessica gleefully informs us that Liz forgave her later on, because she “has to.” And that pretty much sums up one of the main reasons why Jessica never learns.

Next, the book gives us special sneak previews of Elizabeth’s Secret Diary and Jessica’s Secret Diary, two Magna Editions that were released later that year. (It’s almost time for me to recap these.) The main purpose of the diaries is to further our understanding that Liz is a hypocrite and Jessica is a sociopath. Liz’s diary excerpt is about how she cheated on Todd with Ken Matthews when Todd first left for Vermont. I guess I’m supposed to be shocked, but Liz is always cheating on Todd with somebody so … Jessica’s diary excerpt is about how she impersonated Liz to go on a date with Jeffrey. During a romantic stroll on the beach, Jeffrey suddenly realizes “Liz” is Jessica, or that’s the impression Jess has, but he makes out with her anyway and then never breathes a word of the incident to Liz. Nice Jeffrey character assassination! And again, how shocking that Jessica would try to make out with her sister’s boyfriend, because she’s never done it before! The only thing that really raised my eyebrows was that they inserted racier language into these. E.g., Jessica thinks about “ripping off Jeffrey’s clothes.”

Lastly, there’s a Sweet Valley trivia quiz which covers all four series. At the end of the quiz, the book says: “To find out the answers, turn to the next page, hold the page up to a mirror, and read the reflection!” Then you turn the page and the print is just regular facing type and you definitely don’t need a stinkin’ mirror. Editing fail!

In the back of the book: There’s yet another Sweet Valley Fan Club ad, plus a promo advertising four upcoming Christmas books, one in each series.

Coming up next …: Now that we’ve finished our werewolf arc, it’s time for the next thrilling mini-series!

#106 / Super Thriller #6 Beware the Wolfman

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BEWARE this spooky ass font

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The stepback cover: These twins don’t look like they even realize there’s a werewolf behind them. Their faces are kind of like, “Oh, what a rude man”

This is it! The finale of the “Sweet Valley Horror” mini-series and the sixth Super Thriller … which is also part of the regular series somehow. Bizarre, I hate when they pull that crap. These werewolf books are so out of left field that you’d think they’d just make them ALL Super Thrillers. That way they can deny they’re canon later on if they want.

This cover is honestly pretty sweet, with the front cover being a simple overlay, showing a werewolf hand leaving claw marks. There’s a stepback illustration with the twins looking mildly offended by the wolf man snarling at them. And they have those dang trench coats once again. I’m guessing Jessica is the one on the left, since she is wearing a leopard-print coat. That doesn’t seem like Liz’s speed. Liz’s hands look really creepy to me. Where’s her stupid anti-werewolf pendant?

We start off the morning after the big press conference in which a warrant was issued for younger Robert’s arrest, based on some flimsy ass evidence. Liz is having breakfast at the HIS student housing with Portia and Emily, feeling smug as shit over her fabulous front-page article breaking the news about where Princess Eliana was. She’s also very pleased with herself that younger Robert is about to be arrested for being a werewolf. She, Portia, and Emily laugh about what an old bag their housemother is and how she flipped out over finding out she’d had a princess under her roof all this time. Just then, Jessica shows up and sees all the newspapers lying around with the “WEREWOLF” headlines. LOL, this is some tabloid shit. Jessica flips out yelling at Liz and while some of it is unfair (because it’s Jessica), a lot of it is pretty on the nose. She’s angry that Liz impersonated her to sneak around Pembroke Manor, and she calls Liz a “reverse snob” again for looking down on everyone with money. She makes fun of Liz for sitting on a high horse about breaking the Princess Eliana story like she’s the world’s greatest investigative reporter, even though Eliana came right out and told Liz who she was, so it’s not like Liz had to do much work. She mocks Liz and Luke for being “nuts” and  “deluded” for believing in werewolves and for being so quick to believe that Robert is one. Liz’s response is to act shocked that Jessica would defend Robert since Robert tried to kill her … because Liz is convinced her circumstantial evidence is rock-solid proof. Jessica tells Liz she’ll never find a motive for Robert. The twins resolve never to speak to one another again. Liz thinks this is the worst fight they’ve ever had. It must be nice to have such a horrible short-term memory.

Liz takes a walk with her side piece Luke Shepherd in the park and thinks about how all memory of Todd Wilkins disappears when she’s with Luke. Real nice, although at this point, Todd is hardly a prize, so whatever. I just hate how Liz believes she’s better than literally everyone else. Liz whimpers at Luke that she’s feeling frightened, and he gives her a silver bullet to keep the werewolf away. Liz tells him she doesn’t have a gun, and he assures her it will protect her anyway. That afternoon, Liz and David Bartholomew take a ride to the palace to see Princess Eliana and have tea with the queen. Liz feels slightly guilty for not waking Jessica up to go with them, but Jessica later thinks she wouldn’t have gone anyway because she wants nothing to do with Liz. Uh, okay. I’m definitely not buying that Jessica Wakefield would turn down an invitation to chill with the Queen of England. Meanwhile, Liz asks herself if tea with the queen “is really that important” when people are dying and she has a mystery to solve. Oh my god, she’s so self-important and such a big martyr. While Liz is out, Jessica goes to hang out with Portia backstage, and Portia encourages Jessica to fight to clear Robert’s name. Then most of the kids go to see a classical music concert put on by Gabriello’s university music program, or something. Jessica actually enjoys herself.

The next day, Liz and Jess pointedly ignore each other at breakfast. Liz and David talk all about Princess Eliana’s luxurious palace housing and seem awfully impressed for two people who go out of their way to act like they don’t care about royalty or rich people. Surprisingly, nobody says shit about the Queen, so maybe Her Majesty didn’t have time for their wannabe bougie asses after all?

Jessica takes off with Emily under the guise of going shopping, then informs Emily she’s really going detective-ing instead. Poor Em. Jessica heads to the house/office of the dead Dr. Neville, one of the first werewolf victims, where she breaks in and flips through his medical files. She finds a file for Annabelle S. – she doesn’t know who that is because Liz hasn’t told her about the name in Lord Pembroke’s book. Jessica is intrigued since Annabelle’s file is the only one with no last name. Gee, maybe it’s Shepherd. The file says Annabelle died of pneumonia 8 years ago, but little else. Jessica hears someone coming, so she shoves the Annabelle file into her bag and dives through a window. Unbeknownst to either twin, the “someone” is just Liz breaking in. These kids are so fucking entitled. Look at me, I’m a Detective! I solve shit! Liz is at Dr. Neville’s because what Jessica said earlier got to her, and she wants to find Robert’s motive for yanking out people’s throats. I thought he was a werewolf … isn’t that the motive? LOL. Liz is so stupid. She finds younger Robert’s medical file and shoves it in her bag. Then she pokes through dead Dr. Neville’s Rolodex and finds a card for the “Pembroke nanny”, Mildred Price. She laughs to herself about how Robert must be with his nanny because he’s a rich entitled boy and that’s where boys like that run, and it’s SO smug and pretentious. If the ghostwriter wants me to hate Liz more than usual, they are doing a great job. Liz starts to write the nanny’s name and address down on some notepaper, then hears someone coming. Like an idiot, she leaves the notepaper with her writing on the desk, but snatches Mildred’s card out of the Rolodex. After she flees, the third intruder enters and it’s the “werewolf”, though they don’t tell us who it is and they don’t actually say he’s a werewolf. He prowls around sniffing the scent of the girls and takes note that someone wrote down “Nanny Millie’s” name because I guess we’re supposed to think it’s Robert. Nice try.

After Liz flees from Dr. Neville’s house, she meets Rene Glize for lunch and babbles on about her detective bullshit. Rene urges her to quit snooping around before she gets hurt and Liz says she can’t because Jessica might get eaten by a werewolf if she doesn’t. She gets back to the HIS housing to find Jessica and their friends are out watching Gabriello’s friend’s band play again. There’s a note from Portia inviting her to come join them, but Liz has more important things to do, such as mope around reading a letter from Todd and thinking about what a horrible girlfriend she is. Psych! Totally kidding on the part about the horrible girlfriend, Liz wouldn’t think that about herself. She takes off her werewolf pendant and sees that the initial “A” is engraved on the back. Could they hit us any harder with the obvious? Liz is all, “Huh, who’s “A”?” She realizes she doesn’t have Luke’s home phone number so she can’t call him. She wishes Luke would open up more about his life with his widowed father. Then she goes and shoves the pendant in Jessica’s work bag, because she thinks it’s selfish of her to keep it for herself when Jessica is really the one in trouble (or so Liz thinks). Liz gets points for wanting to protect her sister. She loses points because she wants to protect her sister from something imaginary. She loses even more points for being too stuck on hating wealthy people to realize that, hello, Luke is the one with something to hide here.

Monday morning arrives and Jessica oversleeps. Liz hems and haws about going to wake her up because she’s worried about Jessica having to commute to work alone, then ultimately decides not to wake her. Interesting how the one time Liz makes Jessica be accountable for herself, is when she thinks Jessica might die if she has to take care of herself. So Liz prances off to work by herself and catches some dark-haired young man with glasses following her, who veers off into a park when he realizes she’s seen him. She knows lots of dark-haired young men and isn’t sure who it is. Once she gets to the office, she finds Lucy Friday is back and has been promoted to editor-in-chief to replace Harry Reeves or Henry Reeves or whatever the fuck that man’s name was. Then Liz and Luke start nuzzling each other all over his desk and Luke gets upset Liz isn’t wearing her necklace. He tells Liz that it did indeed belong to his mom, Ann, who he got his werewolf fanaticism from. Liz doesn’t even make the connection between Ann and Annabelle. She promises Luke that Jessica will take good care of the necklace, even though Jess has no idea that shit is in her bag and could easily lose it. Then Tony Frank runs up to her and Luke as they’re busy canoodling, and informs them there’s been another werewolf murder.

Jessica wakes up and dashes off for the tube station, only to find she left her work bag in her dorm room. When she goes back to get it, she smells Robert’s cologne in her room and decides he must have been there to check up on her. She dashes outside to find him, then collapses bawling on the curb in front of a homeless man. (There’s lots of mention of homeless people in this mini-series BTW.)

Liz and Tony dash off to the scene of the latest murder, only to find it’s the Pembrokes’ old nanny, Mildred Price. Liz takes a moment to look upon Tony and rival reporter, Adam Silver of the London Post, with disdain because “to them, it’s just a story” or something, and Liz is obviously so much better than them. Then she starts bawling about how she could’ve saved Nanny Price by warning her that Robert was evil. Yeah, why didn’t you do that, Liz? You’ve been so convinced that Robert can sprout claws and fur at a moment’s notice and can’t shut up about it to anybody. YA DROPPED THE BALL! Haha, she’s so stupid. Tony has to comfort Liz in the midst of her bawling, because she’s determined to give Jessica a run for her money in the attention whore race. She also starts musing if this now proves Robert is the killer. Make up your fucking mind, Liz. You’ve only been running around for a couple weeks now, pissing your sister off yelling that all the evidence points squarely at Robert and the killer has to be him. But here you are acting like you aren’t sure.

Next, Liz and Tony interview Mildred Price’s granddaughter, Dolores. Dolores says that Robert Pembroke was staying there recently for a little bit. Liz yells out that “I was right!” because she’s a self-absorbed biddy. Dolores says that Robert left when the story broke about him being a killer because he said he didn’t want to bring trouble to his beloved old nanny. Liz and Tony press Dolores on every little detail she can remember about finding her grandma’s body because I’m sure the police didn’t cover that at all. Dolores bawls that Robert must have come back and murdered old Mil. I’m convinced that Liz and Tony don’t realize they are reporters and not police detectives.

Back at the newspaper office, Jessica appeals to the newly crowned editor-in-chief Lucy to make Jessica her own personal intern and Lucy agrees. Methinks Liz will hate that little development.

Liz and Tony run into Rene Glize, who gives some vague reasoning for why he’s in the neighborhood and acts like a weirdo. Wait, is HE supposed to be the werewolf? That would be odd if they brought him back for that shit. Then again, I’ve been scratching my head wondering what the point was of reintroducing him in this mini-series anyway. My best guess is he’s going to turn out to be a mystical werewolf slayer.

Back at the HIS dorm, someone enters the twins’ and Portia’s room and “paws” through things while “yowling.” I’m getting an image of a regular guy stomping around trying to act like a werewolf, and dying laughing. The intruder finds the letter from Todd Wilkins to Liz and rips it in half with his teeth. Haha, it’s definitely Luke, and if it’s not him it’s Rene. The “werewolf” also finds the medical files for Annabelle and Robert and is irritated that the twins must know about Annabelle. He looks for the silver bullet, but can’t find it. Oh god, there’s gonna be some showdown with that shit later, isn’t there. After ransacking the room, the intruder steals away with the two files, vowing to fight the twins to the death, or some old dramatic bullshit like that.

Jessica has a good first day as Lucy’s intern and is actually praised for her writing skills. Liz comes back in the office from her play-detective outing with Tony and, as predicted, is jealous at Jessica’s success. Die mad about it, ya B. Jessica finds Luke’s pendant in her bag and realizes Liz put it there. She doesn’t want to wear it, but ends up putting it on “against her will.” No, that’s what it says. Haha! She is hypnotized by the pentagram! She and Liz end up riding the tube home together and talk a bit, but without looking at each other. After they leave the office, Tony goes into Lucy’s office and asks her out, but she tells him their relationship is going to be strictly professional and he walks away dejected.

Back at the dorm, Liz, Jess, and Portia find their room ransacked, although Liz and Jess’s things were the only ones really touched, and the two files they stole are missing. The bullet is also missing, even though we know the intruder couldn’t find it. Sergeant Bumpo comes to investigate and he’s way, waaaay more bumbling than ever before. The fuck? He wasn’t THAT bad. After he leaves, they see him arrest a homeless man for stumbling around causing a ruckus. It’s the same homeless man that Jessica cried in front of before. I would say that it’s Robert in disguise, but I’m not clear why Robert would weave around calling attention to himself. Then again, I never said anyone in this book was smart. Portia and Jess go to dinner. Having heard about the room ransacking incident, Rene barges into Liz’s room to beg her to go back home to the U.S. with Jessica so they don’t get hurt. He offers to make all the arrangements, but Liz insists everything will be fine and goes out to dinner with Luke. As she and Jessica try to fall asleep that evening, Jessica starts thinking about Luke’s mother’s pendant and “Annabelle S.” and she excitedly wakes Liz up to ask what Luke’s mother’s name was. Liz mumbles that it’s “Ann” and Jessica is disappointed because that means Annabelle can’t possibly be Luke’s mother. Holy fucking SHIT these geniuses …

At work the next day, we learn the werewolf has attacked Lord Pembroke (the dad), but he’s survived somehow and is in intensive care. Luke, Tony and Liz gather around and talk totally objectively about how they can’t believe Robert would attack his own father and speculate like fucking crazy to come up with reasons he must have done it. Great journalists in action. Lucy gives Jessica the morning off because Jessica is upset, and tells her to look for ways to prove Robert’s innocent (even though Lucy also believes Robert is guilty). Jess goes to the hospital to meet with Lord Pembroke and the hospital staff just lets her into his room because she asked. Great security staff this royal family has. Lord Pembroke does some mumbling at Jessica about how he wanted to hunt a werewolf. Then he sees Jessica wearing Luke’s pendant and says it looks like one he once gave Annabelle, the only woman he ever loved. He implores Jessica to tell Robert the younger that he has a brother. Jessica fails to put two and two together and I’m about to tear my hair out. Old Lord Pembroke rasps at Jessica that his son loves her … and then he kicks the bucket. LOL just kidding, I’m just being cold on that last part about the bucket. Although in all honesty they kind of acted like he died after he said that … calling those his “final words.”

After meeting with Lord Pembroke, Jessica comes across Lady Henrietta Pembroke, his wife, in the hospital kitchen, hoping to talk to her. But as soon as she sees her, Lady Pembroke starts screaming at her about being a nosy American, and flings her coffee cup on the ground. Real high class there, Lady P.  Jessica goes back to the office and works through her suspects list. She starts to go snoop in Luke’s desk, but he catches her and she has to make some shit up about a stapler.

Liz takes a train out to Pembroke Manor with Tony, who has a cold, which must mean it’s going to be convenient to the plot later. She is startled to see Rene on the same train platform as they’re boarding, but loses sight of him. She and Tony get to the manor house and just let themselves on in because there aren’t many servants around and I guess nobody locks their doors in this damn town. They prowl around the werewolf room for eons, and talk about how Robert must have been inspired to take on the persona of werewolf killer from his dad’s collection. What a couple of presumptuous ass wipes. There are two werewolf books inscribed to elder Robert by Annabelle, and one of them is in French. Then Liz finds a box disguised as a book, full of love letters from Annabelle. In her letters, she told Lord Pembroke he had to promise to take care of their son. The pair traipse out of the house to catch a taxi while the “werewolf” watches them from the woods on all fours. The werewolf then goes into the house, lets himself into the secret wolf room, grabs Annabelle’s letters and sniffs them, and howls “balefully.” I cannot stop laughing. Bravo, ghostwriter, seriously.

That night, Princess Eliana comes to visit for a surprise dinner, and I guess the twins believe she showed up to make them have to sit together and make up. Liz starts looking down her nose at Jessica, and talks about Robert going to the gas chamber, because she is a heinous bitch. Jessica screams at her that she hates her and then tells everyone else she hates them too for setting this up, and runs out of the room. Dramatic much? Liz stomps off and breaks Mrs. Bates’ rules by going onto the boys’ floor to talk to Rene. Hey, the guys keep pulling the same shit and Liz is clearly no longer someone who gives a fuck about rules anyhow. Even though Liz has never been on the boys’ floor, she somehow knows just where Rene’s room is, but his door is locked. She gets super pissed off because she thinks she’s entitled to Rene’s time and he’s supposed to just wait around for her to talk when she feels like it.

Liz tells Luke all about the investigation she and Tony did at Pembroke Manor, and Luke gets upset and tries to get her to stop the investigation. She decides not to tell him that she and Tony have the return address from Annabelle’s old letters, and are going to head over there next. That’s probably the first smart thing she’s done in this book. However, Tony gets too sick with his cold to go, so Liz ends up taking Luke with her after all.

Portia gets her dad, Sir Montford Albert, to escort her and Jess into Lady Henrietta Pembroke’s townhouse so they can question her, because Sir Montford is a famous actor, and nearly every single noble or person related to nobility is depicted as a simpering buffoon in these books so Lady Pembroke is sure to let Sir Montford in the house. It works. Lady Pembroke nearly swoons when she sees Sir Montford and is only mildly miffed he brought along the girls. Sir Montford quickly gets a donation pledge from Lady Pembroke for his theater company, then is all, “Right, see ya later” and swoops out leaving the two girls sitting there. Jessica merely states aloud that she knows about Annabelle and the Lady starts spilling the tea about their affair like it’s nothing. So yeah, Lord Pembroke had an affair with Annabelle, who wasn’t of the same class. I really am not sure if they started the affair before or after Lord Pembroke married Lady Henrietta. Annabelle had a child with Lord Pembroke but lied and told her husband that the child was his. And then Lord Pembroke had to keep paying for the child’s medical care, share Robert’s nanny with him, and so on, while Annabelle told her husband the payments were coming out of her pension from her old job at the London Journal, until Lady Pembroke had them cut the child off, because all the money in the marriage is apparently hers. Huh? And the child’s name was … *drumroll* … Lucas! Jessica yells that Luke is the killer and tears out of the house to find Liz. After calling Tony to learn where Liz went, she and Portia hop in a taxi to head to Annabelle’s old house on Forget-Me-Not Lane. Tony then gets worried and calls Lucy, and they head that way as well. On the way there, they admit they love each other and almost make out at a stoplight.

Liz and Luke arrive first, of course, and they just go ahead and break on in once they realize no one is home. Nobody has neighbors who give a fuck in this book, so it’s all good! Liz justifies it to herself as she has to break and enter someone’s fucking house for the sake of her investigation. Sounds like quite the reach there but okay Liz, go on and be a yoga instructor. They get inside and the lights are all out, and they have to light candles. Luke goes into the basement to try and fix the fuse while Liz heads upstairs and starts nosing around. She finds a man’s room with a framed picture of a smiling woman and little boy. She just goes ahead and snatches the picture and roams on down the hall into another bedroom. It’s covered in many years of newspaper clippings about the Pembrokes. Liz spins around in horror with her little candle in her hand, gaping at the newspaper clippings. She picks up a diary and reads about the writer having woken up in the woods outside of his father’s house in the country covered in blood and not knowing what happened. She realizes this is Annabelle’s son’s room. Good job, Einstein. Then a werewolf pops up in the doorway and asks if Liz likes his collection. She sees the werewolf is wearing Luke’s clothing and laughs it off because Luke must be just fooling around. The werewolf isn’t laughing and insists he can’t take his mask off. Liz looks at the photo and realizes that’s Luke with Annabelle in the photo … and that Luke is Lord Pembroke’s son … and he’s the killer! Liz, is your daddy a snail ’cause you are SLOW!

Luke in werewolf-mask tells Liz he’s killing people because his real father abandoned his mother and she died and it’s his father’s fault. On her deathbed, Annabelle told Luke who his real father was and he hasn’t been right since. He’s been determined to get back at his real father’s family ever since, his nanny, the doctor and nurse that treated him, etc. What about Lady Wimpole’s dog though? Luke does explain that he killed Joy because he thought she was Jessica, and he was mad at Jessica for planning to become the next Lady Pembroke when Luke’s mother never had that chance. Now he’s gonna kill Liz!

As Luke is about to pounce on Liz and rip her throat out, Sergeant Bumpo, Rene Glize, & Robert Pembroke the younger suddenly bust into the room with a gun. I guess Liz doesn’t want to send Robert to the gas chamber now! Liz sees Robert is dressed as the homeless man she just saw outside. The four men start wrasslin’ around on the floor and Robert threatens Luke by yelling he has the “silver bullet.” The gun gets knocked away, and Bumpo ends up shooting Luke just as Jessica and Portia arrive. Liz removes Luke’s werewolf mask and he happily tells her they killed the werewolf, then dies.

Liz and Jessica make up. Liz has to admit she was wrong about Robert, but does so kind-of half-assedly. Robert says he’s been hiding as a homeless man in the city pretty much the whole time he was on the lam, other than the time he spent with his old nanny. It was indeed him getting arrested by Bumpo outside the student housing! When Bumpo arrested him for vagrancy, Robert exposed the truth to Bumpo and had Bumpo book him overnight. Then the werewolf attacked Robert’s father while Robert was in the clink, and Bumpo realized Robert was telling the truth about not being the killer and they started working together. Robert did indeed come to the twins’ room earlier that same day, because he needed to steal the silver bullet to protect Jessica from Luke. I don’t get the whole silver bullet thing. I mean, we know silver bullets are fatal to werewolves and all, but … Luke obviously wasn’t a real werewolf. Maybe Robert thought he was? And it’s clear that Luke was trying to frame Robert by leaving his stuff at the murder scenes, but Robert isn’t sure if Luke was trying to frame him intentionally or not.

Rene tells Liz he was secretly (or not-so-secretly) following her around in order to protect her. Creepy. I still don’t get what the point was of bringing Rene back after all this time.

Liz steals Luke’s diary because she’s a klepto. She knows the police will want it at some point, but she wants to reads it in the comfort of her dorm room while bawling about what an idiot she is. Luke started keeping the diary when he was 9 and his mother had just died and he had learned the truth about his father. I swear they previously said his mom died when he was 6. The diary reveals that Luke started having “blackouts” as a teenager. He apparently acted as “the werewolf” and killed people and animals during some of these blackouts, which he didn’t remember later. As a result, Luke in his “normal” state honestly thought Robert was the werewolf and surmised that he must have come back from the blackout with blood on himself because he found the bodies. Luke also wrote in his diary about having worn Robert’s robe and taken his cigarette case but doesn’t remember committing the murders while he had those items. So he thinks Robert somehow left those items at the murder scenes, even though Luke remembers taking them himself? Oh yeah, and not sure where the damn “real” wolf fur came from. Luke’s last entry in his diary was a love sonnet to Elizabeth. (No, they don’t share it with us.) How touching. Does it mention wolfsbane in her hair?

Lucy and Tony realize they love each other, and get married a couple of days after this all ends. No, I’m not playing. Bumpo is there and he knocks a potted plant over on top of the wedding band.

Lord Robert the elder recovers and begs everyone to forgive him. He recognized Luke as his son when he first met him, but didn’t think Luke recognized him. Now Luke is dead and I guess that’s real convenient. Elder Robert passes ownership of the newspaper on to his “legitimate” son. No word on if Elder Robert is still desperate to hunt and kill a real werewolf or if anyone else feels sheepish for believing that Younger Robert was one. No one is really taking time to reflect on those shenanigans. I mean, if you got a rug and I got a broom …

Liz feels zero guilt over cheating on Todd with a serial killer. Zero, zilch, nada! (as she sings out to herself earlier in the book while looking over her stupid clues). Seriously, even if you happen to be a Liz fan, her sanctimonious crap was just over the top in this one.

I’m giving myself a hand, because when it comes to this whole plot reveal … uh, I pretty much NAILED IT. Because it was real difficult, hehe.

I loved this stupid ass, nutty mini-series. That’s true even though this last book was honestly starting to drag on too long (and it even opened with a too-lengthy recap of everything that happened in the first two books). I was starting to get pretty tired of the new formula post-A Night to Remember, and these wolf-man books made me laugh and gave me a welcome reprieve. I could still do without having the same story line dragged out over 3 books, but at least it was hilariously stupid. They already jumped the shark with the Jungle Prom and Margo, if you ask me, so they may as well just frickin’ run with it – and they did.

I do hope we can allow any future beaus of the twins to live past their teens.

Oh yeah, and pro tip: Never try to make actual sense out of this mini-series. Who’s got the Tylenol?

Other stuff: The ghostwriter misspells the name of Steven Wakefield’s girlfriend Billie as “Billy.”

There’s a scene where Tony passionately insists that Liz try to stick together with her sister to say safe. And then, “His eyes burned into hers and she felt a thrill of excitement, and fear.” For a moment, I really thought Liz would be adding a fourth man into her rotation.

Hot tip from Jessica: “People who write poetry are too wimpy to be murderers.” That was her reasoning for why it couldn’t be Luke (before she realized it WAS him, obvs).

“Jessica folded her arms across her chest and pushed out her lower lip …” She’s done that at least twice in this book. What a baby!

I’ve bitched about this many times before, but the lack of creativity with character names in these series really bugs me. The names Frank, Tony, and Lucy all reminded me of the Super Editon Malibu Summer, which had prominent characters with all of those names in it! There are several other repeats as well, but those three really stand out. Gah, come on y’all. To make matters worse, there’s a book coming up called Falling for Lucas that has nothing to do with THIS Luke / Lucas (or at least, as far as I can tell it doesn’t).

I’m too lazy to go back and try and figure this out, but I swear to god they kept changing around how long ago Luke’s mother died.

Rene tells Liz it was hard following her around, because she “really gets around.” Yeah, you got that right Rene.

Lady Pembroke declares that she knew the child her husband had with Annabelle was evil as soon as she heard the name, because Lucas is an evil name. What? Am I missing a reference to something?

Love the way Liz is always looking down on rich people when she just had Bruce Patman’s tongue in her mouth last mini-series.

People spent an awful lot of time in all three of these books fucking talking out loud to themselves!

Coming up next: We’ll go back to Sweet Valley, California, for some less supernatural drama, and take a look at a special extra or two. And, I’m guessing Todd will never be the wiser that Elizabeth was gettin’ some English werewolf ween behind his back.

#105 A Date with a Werewolf

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The one in which Lina shows David her “O” face

First of all, I couldn’t even type out the title of this book without laughing. This is some silly-ass, campy-ass, dumb-ass shit and I LOVE IT. I can see how this mini-series was not a hit with plenty of SVH readers, but I can’t remember the last time I giggled my way through an SVH book like this. Buckle up, it’s gonna be a ridiculous ride!

So, I got a stick up my ass last recap, because the last book had the mini-series title as “Sweet Valley Terror” which is the same as the Margo mini-series. I’m pleased to report my high standards have been now been met as this book shows the correct mini-series title, which is apparently “Sweet Valley Horror.” Learn it. Know it. Live it.

Following the cliffhanger at the end of the last book, we open this one at Pembroke Manor with about two pages of Liz wailing that Jessica is dead. Then Jess waltzes in and wants to know what all the fuss is about. Then Police Chief Thatcher comes in and rolls over the throatless body, and it’s his own fiancee … Joy Singleton, the one Liz was just mocking at the end of the last book. Man, that’s fucked up! As it turns out, Joy had asked Jessica if they could switch rooms because the full moon was making Joy’s bedroom too bright and she couldn’t sleep. Y’all ever hear of basic heavy drapes at Pembroke Manor? Damn.

Constable Sheila Atherton comes by to question everyone at once in the parlor. She does this dramatic shit where she whips around to glare at people without warning. She must have gotten lost on the way to a murder mystery party. She’s also honing in on the twins for no apparent reason. Actually, it’s probably because Liz is sitting there scribbling notes and Jessica is acting completely unfazed that someone was just murdered in horrific fashion, in her own damn room. These twins are seriously immune to post-traumatic stress disorder and should be the subject of a medical study. Of course, Liz sits on the couch glaring at Robert each time he gives one of his servants a simple order and thinks about how much better than him she is. Then Police Chief Thatcher lies to Constable Atherton and says he doesn’t see any similarities between this murder and the others back in London and nobody calls him on his bullshit. Then Lord Robert the Elder grabs at Liz’s wrist while she’s scrawling bullshit in her notebook, and tells her not to even bother trying to write a story on this for the London Journal because nobody cares. Liz is upset by all this shady shit and goes to the kitchen to question two of the Pembroke servants, Alistair and Maria, who she thinks were acting weird during Constable Atherton’s questioning. Maria admits she saw someone leaving Jessica’s room late at night around the time of Joy’s murder, when she was apparently coming back from a lil rendezvous with Alistair, but she either has no idea who it was or won’t say. She didn’t want to tell the constable because she seems to think that would cost her her job.

After Jessica’s room has been cleaned up from Joy’s murder, Liz sneaks in there and prowls around, because she thinks she’s in an Agatha Christie novel. She doesn’t tell Luke because she doesn’t think he can stay objective with his whole werewolf obsession. But then she discovers some green silk threads and a bunch of animal fur stuck in the cracks around the door and runs off to show it to Luke, who flips out doing his whole OHMAGERD WEREWOLVES act. When Liz tries to tell him that she’s not convinced there are such things as werewolves, Luke lectures her about something Thoreau once wrote. I really hate him. Next, Liz the genius accidentally lets Lina’s secret slip to Luke – that Lina’s really the missing Princess Eliana in disguise.

Back at the student housing, Emily and Lina discuss how jealous they are of the “American twins” and I want to puke. Lina starts going out on dates with David at Liz’s urging and finds she’s enjoying herself. And Rene goes to see Portia’s performance in A Common Man and then has a chat with her backstage. Rene suggests that Portia invite her father to come see her in the play. Portia suggests that Rene quit being grumpy about Liz dating Luke, and he starts blathering on about how he’s in love with Liz and she’s the perfect girl for him. Give me a damn break, you barely know her, Rene. Portia essentially tells him the same thing, and then they go off to find a bite to eat. I thought this book was trying to get the two of them together at first, but spoiler alert, nothing happens. I’m really not sure why the fuck Rene is even back in this series, unless he’s going to turn out to be a master werewolf slayer in the finale, which honestly makes sense at this point.

Liz and Jess arrive home from their disastrous Pembroke weekend – separately, since Liz rode the train back with her little wolf fiend, and Jessica rode back with Robert. Liz picks up a copy of the London Journal and is pissed that there’s no mention of Joy Singleton’s murder in it, just more stuff about the missing Princess Eliana supposedly being spotted in a Tokyo bathhouse. Then Liz gets alarmed when Jessica starts talking about how she’s fallen in love again for the first time since Sam died. (What about that James dude that Margo killed?) Liz begins lecturing her about how she barely knows Robert and bla bla. Haha, what a fucking hypocrite! Liz is over here blatantly cheating on her man with some dude who can’t talk about anything but wolf people. Jessica yells at Liz that she’s fed up with her “holier-than-thou” attitude and storms off. Hah! I want to give Jessica a high-five, except I don’t like her either. Lina / Eliana overhears some of the outburst, and she and Liz have a heart-to-heart about Liz’s fears that her sister is dating a murderer. Lina reassures her that she knows Robert (since she’s related to him and all) and he’s definitely not a murderer. Lina thinks that Lord Robert the elder is trying to cover up the “werewolf” murders not because he or his son are responsible for them, but because he’s completely averse to the press reporting on any scandal involving his family. And since there’s apparently only one newspaper in the entire UK in this pre-Internet-age book, and he owns it, I guess he has nothing to worry about there. It makes a lot of sense that he would allow a murderer to keep ripping the throats out of his friends rather than allow anybody to catch a whiff of this shit. Lina does make mention of some big family scandal that occurred about 20 years ago and really affected Lord Pembroke. She doesn’t know what it was, just that it was a “deep dark secret” that “caused embarrassment” when it got out. Not to worry, Detective Liz is on the case!

The twins arrive at the newspaper office the next morning to find that Tony Frank has been promoted to Crime desk editor, now that Lucy has quit in a rage. He assigns them to cover another story on Bumpo’s beat, this time about a kitchen sink that fell from a window and hit a college student in the head. (Spoiler alert: some dumb guy who was installing a new sink threw the old one out the window without looking.) Before they leave to follow The Bump around, Luke comes over to ask Liz to watch The Howling at a local cinema with him. Seriously, does this boy do anything that isn’t werewolf-related? He’s boring the shit out of me. He’s probably the killer, who’s convinced himself he’s a werewolf.

Liz impersonates Jessica so that she can question Lady Pembroke about the royal family’s big scandal, because she can’t first look through the microfiche machine at the fucking newspaper office she fucking works at! Liz bungles it in roughly two minutes because she’s a moron, rushing into asking about 20-year old secrets in the most obvious way ever, and Lady Pembroke tells her she is of “ill-breeding.” I mean, I don’t disagree.

Meanwhile, Jessica is busy typing up the falling sink story, even though Liz said she would. Robert the younger calls her and asks about getting together with his mom for dinner that night so that they can reconcile, because apparently his mom’s pretty upset about the way “Jessica” was questioning her earlier. Jessica quickly puts two and two together and is outraged.

After fucking up her Lady Pembroke interview, Liz goes on a lunch date with Rene where she tells Rene how she’s sure one of the Pembrokes is the murderer. Rene notices her pentagram necklace – the werewolf protection pendant that Luke gave her – and with, like, two words, convinces Liz that werewolves don’t exist. Liz then comes home to find Jessica preparing for her dinner with Robert and Lady Pembroke. Jessica blows up at her and accuses Liz of trying to ruin her happiness with Robert, because she thinks Liz wants to hop on Robert’s royal dong. She yells a pretty gold line about how it’s not enough for Liz to string along three guys at once. Haha! But Liz insists Jessica not tell Lady Pembroke that it was actually Liz interviewing her, because that will tip the Pembrokes off that Liz is trying to crack the case. Uh, Liz’s totally obvious questions earlier weren’t enough of a tip-off that somebody is on to their bullshit? Jesus, Liz really has a high opinion of herself (more stunning news at 11). For some reason, Jessica doesn’t expose Liz to the Pembrokes and suffers through a horribly awkward dinner being berated by Lady Pembroke. To make her feel better, Robert offers to take Jessica to see Stonehenge. Jessica goes, “Isn’t it just a bunch of old rocks?” Robert tells her Stonehenge is located in the lonely countryside and it will be just the two of them visiting and implies they might be able to get down and dirty there, or something. Uh, okay? I guess Robert is going to have the hordes of tourists kicked out before they visit.

Liz and Luke go see The Howling. The movie convinces Liz that werewolves do exist after all. Ladies and gentlemen, our star detective. After the movie, Liz and her side fella go to The Slaughtered Lamb pub, where Luke insists one of the Pembrokes is a werewolf and Liz agrees that’s the only explanation that fits. God, I can’t with these two half-wits. Part of the reason Liz thinks werewolves exist is because Luke said wolfsbane blooms when the werewolf prowls and Liz is like, “Yes, and we saw it blooming during the murders.” Haha! I think someone dropped a sink on her head a few dozen times.

Liz decides to impersonate Jessica AGAIN so that she can visit the older Lord Robert back at Pembroke Manor and spend an evening poking around looking for “clues”. She’s going to tell Lord Robert that she is still investigating the mink story, like he gives a fuck, and she will tell Tony Frank that she wants to go interview an ostrich farmer. She tells Lina / Eliana all about this. For some odd reason, though, she doesn’t tell Liz to keep her fucking nose out of her family’s business.

We get a scene of Lord Pembroke the Elder moodily sitting in his study. We learn that, like Luke, he believes the murderer is a werewolf. In fact, Lord Pembroke has always wanted to catch a werewolf to add to his trophy collection and bring his family renown following that 20-year-old scandal that we still don’t know. That’s why Pembroke has been covering up the murders. We also learn he found fur at the scene of his friend Dr. Neville’s murder, along with his son’s cigarette case. And he also saw the green threads in the door on the scene of Joy’s murder, and recognized them as coming from Robert’s robe. But he doesn’t want to believe his son could be a werewolf. Why not? Others seem happy just merrily jumping to that conclusion. He thinks Jessica has done his son a world of good and adores her, but he hates Liz for being nosy and poking around with her little notebook. And speak of the devil, Liz then calls him posing as Jessica, and says she wants to come to the house to ask questions about the mink story. Lord Robert doesn’t give a shit about his wife’s mink because he’s barely spoken to his wife in 17 years. (Also, his real love was lost to him in some vague incident ages ago.) Since Lord Robert finds “Jessica” charming, he encourages her to come visit, after making sure her sister won’t be coming along. He also tells her that his son loves her.

When “Jessica” gets to the house, she sees the body of the servant she spoke with earlier, Maria Finch, being wheeled out of the house with her throat torn open. The elder lord bumbles around mumbling shit at Jessica about how she shouldn’t let this get out. Instead of running away screaming, Liz takes advantage of her stay at Pembroke Manor to prowl around Robert’s bedroom looking for clues. She finds his dressing robe in the closet and confirms that it matches the threads she took from the doorway following Joy’s murder. Then she stuffs the robe into her backpack because she’s a little thief tripping on some lycanthropic bullshit. Her next stop is the library, where she finds that removing a volume of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde causes a secret doorway to open. Okay … I guess Lord Pembroke thinks there’s zero chance of someone wanting to read that novel? Liz walks on in to the secret chamber, and I’m hoping she gets shut in the walls for life, but nah, she’s just discovering a secret werewolf room. I’m about to spit my drink everywhere laughing just trying to type this shit. Yes, it’s a damn werewolf room. It has wolf heads mounted on the walls, and shelves full of werewolf books. It even has its own desk and a separate phone line in case of werewolf emergency … I guess. Haha! This shit is bananas. Liz pulls down a book from the chamber’s shelves, and finds it has an inscription to Lord Pembroke from “Annabelle” 20 years ago and starts getting hung up on who Annabelle is. She hears the servants coming, so she has to put everything back and get the hell out of dodge.

Meanwhile, Jessica is back at the newspaper office trying to type up an article while Luke critiques her, which pisses Jessica off because she knows writing isn’t her “greatest talent.” Yet they keep giving this bitch newspaper internships. Jessica notices Luke has a werewolf talisman keychain like the pendant he gave Liz and starts asking him what his deal is with that malarkey. He stares at her and then solemnly recites her a werewolf poem that he wrote himself. Oh my god, I just spat out my drink all over myself.

The next morning at Pembroke Manor, Liz pokes around in the library again trying to figure out who Annabelle is, to no avail. Just then, Liz hears Lord Pembroke and Police Chief Thatcher coming into the library, so she scrambles out of the secret room – accidentally leaving its door slightly ajar – and goes under a desk in the nick of time. From her place under the desk, which Pembroke is sitting at (gross?), she hears Thatcher giving Pembroke an ultimatum to tell him what he knows. Pembroke doesn’t want to because his evidence points to an innocent man, but Thatcher is tired of putting up with his bullshit, so Pembroke agrees to give him his evidence by 10 PM after he’s had a chance to talk to the “suspect.” After Thatcher leaves, Pembroke conveniently starts talking aloud about how he knows his son has to be innocent and he’ll clear his name, while Liz pants in fear. He then discovers someone has opened his secret room and is just shocked because he worked so carefully at hiding it and all, you know, hiding the switch under a BOOK in a motherfuckin’ LIBRARY. He muses aloud about how no one else ever knew of the room’s existence but Annabelle.

As soon as Liz has a chance to get out of the library, she tears off to call the newspaper office and try and find Jessica because now she’s firmly convinced Jess is about to have her throat ripped out by Robert, as opposed to before when she was mostly convinced but didn’t really give a shit about Jessica and her throat. When she calls the office, Luke is gone all day, and Tony Frank says Jessica is out with Robert. As Liz flees the manor to find her sister, Pembroke calls Robert and tells him to get the fuck out of dodge because Thatcher is going to think he’s a werewolf and come arrest him. Robert is all, “Aw Dad, stop fucking around with that wolf man bullshit” but he agrees to hightail it out of town, so he can hide from the cops, I guess. Then he takes Jessica out to brunch, & tells her he has to leave town and cancel their Stonehenge date. He won’t say why, but assures Jessica he cares about her. Upset, Jessica takes off shopping and running up the emergency credit card her parents gave her. She heads into a deserted tube station and something chases her. She runs off, falls down and then just lays there while something “hairy” brushes her arm and breathes over her. Just then, some people show up and the hairy thing runs off. For real, this is supposed to be how werewolves act? Jessica is now also starting to think werewolves must be real. There’s no way it could be somebody in a fur coat, or a werewolf suit, or some shit like that.

Tony Frank takes Luke and the twins to meet with Lucy, the original Crime desk editor who quit because the newspaper was covering up the murders. Lucy seems like the voice of reason at first but soon also seems convinced there could be a werewolf. These people have all had psychedelic mushrooms put in their tea. The group has Lucy submit the threads and fur from Joy’s murder scene to Sergeant Bumpo to have them forensically tested, because I guess none of the other cops thought to do that shit already. Lucy comes back to the newspaper office with the gang, then learns that Tony wrote up a story claiming that Princess Eliana was dead (when it was Maria). He did this before he knew it was fact, because his boss Reeves told him he would let him fact check it, then Reeves just went ahead and published anyway before Tony could finish fact checking. Lucy doesn’t buy it and she starts yelling at Tony again and leaves. It’s sad because they’re obviously in lurrrrve. Lucy is my fave because she’s just done with everyone’s bullshit.

Catching up on the sub-plot stuff: Portia sends her dad anonymous tickets to come see “Penelope Abbott” perform. He shows up and loves it and they hug. Yawwwwn, so that’s over with. David and Lina start dating and fall in love. He comes to help her out at the shelter where she works, and they get all worked up talking about how they love to help people and how this makes them so much better than and different from everybody else. No, really. David confesses to Lina that he harbors a dream of opening up a medical clinic at a homeless shelter, and becoming a doctor so he can help there. Lina hems and haws about what to do about her little secret, and finally decides she’s going to tell David she’s really Princess Eliana. But before she can do that, she and David see the headlines proclaiming that Princess Eliana was found dead at Pembroke Manor. He suddenly realizes that she and Lina are one and the same. Lina takes off running in shame, but David comes into her room that night and loudly proclaims his love for her no matter who she is, and it sounds kind of like a marriage proposal. “If you’ll have me …” Liz gets the idea to have David “turn Lina in” to the newspaper because there’s a 1 million pound reward for Princess Eliana’s safe return, and he can then use that money to open up his clinic and go to medical school. Also, it gives Liz the opportunity to write a front page story and win a fucking Pulitzer or whatever. Liz is really getting on my last damn nerve in this book.

That night, Pembroke turns in his evidence to Thatcher implicating his son. The next day, there’s a big press conference at the Journal office to break some crazy news. Emily is there as part of her internship with the BBC. Jessica and Emily keep begging Luke and Liz to tell them what the big story is going to be, and they just sit there smirking because they’re high on wolfsbane. Then David and Lina come out and announce the whole “Princess Eliana found” story and bla bla bla. They give a speech about homelessness in England, and talk about what David is going to do with his reward money to fix it. Everyone flips out praising Liz for her amazing story while she sits there and preens. Lucy comes in and tells the kids that Bumpo has gotten the results back. The threads were definitely from Robert’s bathrobe, and the fur was definitely wolf fur. Robert has to be a werewolf, because there’s just no other explanation!

Lord Pembroke the elder shows up and fires Henry Reeves for printing a false story that Princess Eliana was found dead. Everyone eavesdrops. Then Chief Thatcher shows up and makes an announcement that a warrant is out to arrest Robert for being a murderous lycanthrope. Jessica is sure of Robert’s innocence and resolves to do whatever it takes to prove it.

So yeah, my theory is that Luke is the werewolf, or thinks he’s one. He’s mad because his dad (Lord Pembroke) couldn’t marry his mother (Annabelle) due to some old royal protocol bullshit, so now he’s running around in a fur suit made from real wolf’s fur, slaughtering helpless people and animals to get back at his evil dad. Annabelle probably never told Pembroke that she was having his baby and then she died. And the guy that Luke now calls his “pharmacist dad” is probably actually his step-dad. That would explain why Pembroke seemed to recognize Luke’s last name in the first werewolf book … because he recognized it as either Annabelle’s last name, or the step-dad’s. So in the next book, I think Luke is gonna come staggering out of a party store in full wolf costume doing some loony howl and trying to slash Liz up with his big fake plastic claws. What can I say, this book is stupid as hell, and I kind of love it.

This cover: We get some London scenery in the background. David and Lina / Eliana are in front, staring in disbelief at the headlines proclaiming Eliana dead. Eliana is trying to rival that blowjob face that Liz was making on the cover of The Love Bet. David looks like he’s either really impressed, or he’s mocking her for it. At right, Jessica runs around in the tube station convinced a werewolf is about to eat her, flinging her shopping bags around, although that’s not what she was wearing at the time and she’s about 10 shopping bags short of what she had in the book.

What the fuck? Liz tells Lina about how she killed Jessica’s boyfriend in an accident but then it turned out to be “another driver’s fault”. Um, she was still driving drunk herself, and maybe she wouldn’t have swerved wildly off the road if she hadn’t been behind the wheel like that? And no mention of why she was drunk (because her sister is a sociopath). Is this really the whitewashed version of that bullshit that we’re gonna go with now? (yes)

In the last book, younger Lord Robert told Jessica the queen is his aunt, meaning Princess Eliana is his first cousin. In this book, Princess Eliana tells Liz that the Pembrokes are her “distant cousins.”

Jessica shows off her knowledge of British slang by using words like “naff” (uncool) and “narg” (nerd).

On the other hand, a British reporter uses the term “skedaddle” which is definitely an American slang term (albeit an old one). Did that term find its way over to the UK at some point?

When Liz suggests David try and claim the reward for finding Lina, it’s said the prize money is more than enough to cover the cost of opening a new clinic and to send David through medical school. Pages later, we learn it is not enough – Lina has to cover some of the clinic costs out of her trust fund, and the royal family is going to pay for David’s medical school. Haha, what if David can’t get into med school though? Did they think about that part? I don’t trust that anyone in this book could actually get into med school.

 Luke’s werewolf poem: *clears throat*

Through darkened wood he runs alone;
White team gleam like sharpened bone.
Wolfsbane bloom is softly kissed
By moonlight drifting through the mist.
By day he wishes no one ill;
At night he hungers for the kill.

Todd Wilkins, this is the dude your girl is cheating on you with.

Coming up next: Our first Super Thriller in a long time! BEWARE THE WOLFMAN! AWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO y’all know this will be dumb as hell and I am HERE FOR IT

#104 Love and Death in London

london foggy brain

Attack of the Nancy Drew knock-off

Hola! We’re back with a brand new mini-series, following the new formula Sweet Valley High has decided to follow. This mini-series is called “Sweet Valley Terror”… sound familiar? That was also what they called the Margo mini-series. And so far, this one has nothing to do with that one. Couldn’t they be more creative? I know they are (more creative) later on in the series, so I don’t get it. Oh well, on to the next nit-pick. Which is that this book is essentially the latest version of the old SVH detective story Super Thrillers, yet they wanted to keep it part of the regular series because they wanna drag it out for three books and pull in more Fear Street-fan readers. With that said, this book is super silly, but it’s also the most fun I’ve had with this series in a while. Seriously, I kind of love this.

So we left off a couple weeks after spring break #137 at Sweet Valley High, and now we’ve zoomed ahead to summer #137. Thanks to the previous two summers they spent interning at the Sweet Valley News, the twins were able to work connections to get a new summer internship at the London Journal. Imagine being a lucky 16-year-old for this many summers. Our story opens with the twins’ arrival in London. We learn that Lila threw the twins a going-away costume party. Damn, it is seriously canon that Lila Fowler loves her some costume parties. Lila showed the movie An American Werewolf in London and the book just goes ahead and spoils the whole plot for you. I know the assumption is that the readers have already watched all these old movies they mention, or that readers don’t give a crap, but fuck, people! The movie really gave Liz the heebie-jeebies and she will now bring it up periodically throughout this story as she’s suddenly got a crazy fear of werewolves. It doesn’t help that some creepy old lady growls at her on the street to “Beware the full moon”. Haha! I love how we’re supposed to think Liz is the smartest, most down-to-earth character in the whole book, and then they have her be all flighty and convinced that movies reflect real life. Seriously, after the whole The Boyfriend War sub-plot, this is starting to become an uncomfortable theme. Get some help girl.

Meanwhile, Jessica is busy acting like a moron and wheedling around thinking random dudes must be members of the royal family. This is where I should note that an entirely different royal family has been created for this book. The Queen is somebody other than Queen Elizabeth, and she has at least two sons, Prince Malcolm and Prince Douglas, and two daughters, Princesses Gloria and Eliana, all of whom are fairly young (20s and teens). Princess Eliana is missing and the newspapers are full of headlines about it with her face splashed all over everything. The twins wonder where on earth Princess Eliana could be.

The twins arrive at London’s Housing for International Students (HIS), which seems to be modeled after a real place in London called International Students House (ISH). Apparently, it’s not just for international students, as there are British kids staying there as well. The HIS house is run by a strict woman (well, strict compared to Alice Wakefield) named Mrs. Bates. The building is laid out with a main floor (where Mrs. Bates sleeps), the boys’ dorm floor, and then the girls’ dorm floor at the top. Jess and Liz sleep in bunk beds in a room with their two roommates, the snobby, wealthy, aspiring actress Portia Albert from Scotland, and the mysterious, poor, shelter worker from Liverpool, Lina Smith. Portia is the daughter of a Sir Montford Albert, and she roams around looking down on everyone (literally and figuratively), and everyone thinks she sucks at life. Lina seems cool, and she and Liz become friends. A guy named David Bartholomew who’s also from Liverpool, is staying at HIS to take summer classes at “London University”. He has a huge crush on Lina, but she doesn’t have much interest in talking to him and she definitely doesn’t want to talk about her life in Liverpool. Liz keeps thinking that Lina looks familiar, like someone she’s seen very recently, but can’t put her finger on who. Oh wow, I wonder who Lina could possibly be. Don’t worry, they’ll drop about 10,000 more hints before they tell us.

We meet some other HIS residents who become friends with the twins. There’s Emily  Cartwright, a friendly redhead from Sydney, who’s in London to intern at the BBC. She becomes fast friends with both twins. There’s Gabriello Moretti, an Italian university student and musician who’s “gorgeous”. And there’s freakin’ Rene Glize, the same one Liz was kinda-sorta involved with waaaaay back when in 1986 in Super Edition #3, Spring Break. My mouth fell open realizing they actually brought back a character that old. I had to go back and re-read my own damn recap to remember what happened because I’ve been dragging out this blog for too long. The backstory is that Rene was the mean son of the host mother the twins stayed with in Cannes. Rene got over his hatred of Americans, and then his fear of water to save Jessica from drowning. At the very end of the book, he and Liz developed feelings for each other but they kind of dropped it without telling what had happened. I think it was said they agreed to go on a date before Liz left. Now, Rene is in London to work at the French Embassy for the summer and he’s really happy to see Liz. We learn when they last saw each other they left off with a kiss. Now Liz is curious about him even though she’s long since gotten back together with Todd. Rene tells her that he’s made up with his father. Rene is also obviously still interested in Liz. By the way, the person writing this book does get a couple details wrong about the Spring Break story: They state that Liz was still seeing Todd when she had her barely-an-affair with Rene, which is not true as they had broken up in Super Edition #2 (Special Christmas), and Liz was between Todd and Jeffrey at the time. In fact, Jessica spent some time in that book chiding Liz about being single again for too long. They also misspell the name of Rene’s sister, Ferney, as Fernie.

That first night, Liz goes to bed looking at the waxing moon and shivering about what the old lady said earlier. You’re such a wimp, Liz!

The twins head to work at the Journal the next morning, and it just seems like a total shit show from day 1. They are sent back to the office of the editor, Henry Reeves, and he couldn’t give a fuck less that they’re there. He throws them at Tony Frank, the Society page editor, who quickly realizes the twins don’t care about the Society pages. Dude, Jessica Wakefield doesn’t care about covering fashionable parties and the London aristocracy? Is Jessica on something?  Tony throws them at Lucy Friday, Crime page editor. Haha! Her last name is Friday. Totally not contrived at all. Also, I think they’re trying to imply that Lucy and Tony have something going on because they can’t have male and female coworkers just be coworkers without a little somethin’ somethin’ happening.

Lucy tries to find something to make the twins do, and assigns them to the beat of Sergeant Bumpo, Scotland Yard’s hottest investigator. Haha, just kidding, he gets all the lame cases. Liz and Jess have to go with him to Knightsbridge to talk to one Lady Wimpole about her missing Yorkie, Poo-Poo. Christ, that name. Jessica jokingly suggests Sergent Bumpo investigate Cruella de Ville and Sergeant Bumpo has her spell it out for him so he can follow up, while Jess and Liz stand there giggling that he doesn’t know who that is. What the fuck on too many levels to name. The twins then decide to steal away from Bumpo and go check Lucy’s beat because she’s investigating the murder of a Dr. Cameron Neville and they’re disappointed they, the teenage interns, didn’t get to help cover this story. So they just sneak on over to this Dr. Neville’s house and spy on the investigation through the window, where they see Lucy standing next to his dead bloody body with two men, one of whom looks familiar. The dead body has a silver cigarette case in one hand. Lucy states into her recorder that Dr. Neville’s throat was ripped out “as if by a wild beast.” I can’t get over that Liz is voluntarily going along with all of this shit without so much as a mock scold at Jessica. My theory is that Margo really did manage to switch with Liz back in The Evil Twin. It’s Liz who got knocked through the window to her death at Lila’s; we just were led to believe otherwise.

Back at the news office, Liz is typing up the Poo-Poo story for publication when a boy she ran into earlier that day pops up and apologizes for not speaking to her. His name is Luke Shepherd and it seems he sometimes likes to fart around at work and write poetry instead of doing any actual work. Of course, that type of talk makes Liz hot so she enthusiastically agrees to go out with him for tea and scones. They go to a pub called The Slaughtered Lamb. God, I just Googled that pub name and guess what movie they took that from, hahahaa. American Werewolf in Paris, full moon, Shepherd, Slaughtered Lamb, it’s almost like there is a theme here but they’re hitting me over the head too hard with it for me to be certain.

Anyway, Luke spends tea time gushing over how perfect Sweet Valley sounds, moping about his deceased mother, and looking strangely angry about his pharmacist father, which is seriously the perfect combo for Liz. You know she’s bound to hop up on that dick sooner or later.

Meanwhile, Jessica is sent back out on Bumpo’s beat. They go to the house of Lady Pembroke, who called the fucking police because she had tea at Brown’s Hotel and the coat check girl gave her back a chinchilla when Lady Pembroke knows she checked a MINK. Just then, Lady Pembroke’s husband, Lord Robert, and his son, Lord Robert Jr.  show up. Jessica is instantly melting off her chair over younger Lord Robert. He takes her out to tea (at Brown’s, natch, just to irritate his mother), where he basically talks about what a rake he is and how he’s missing his cigarette case. Gee, maybe he dropped it at Dr. Neville’s. He also brags about how his father owns the London Journal. Jessica is too busy drooling in her tea at the latest hot rich dude to care that he is a total drag. I’m glad she, at least, he hasn’t had a total lobotomy recently unlike that other twin. Later on at dinner, the other HIS kids laugh about Robert’s reputation. Lina suddenly cuts in and insists that “Rob” isn’t so bad, then catches herself. LOL, worst imposter ever. Lina, please see Portia about some acting lessons.

Back in their room that night, the girls fawn over their new love interests. Liz tells Jessica that Luke took her on a literary tour of London after their tea, and Jessica yawns in her face. Liz privately feels guilty that she’s developing feelings for Luke behind Todd’s back even though she’s been down this same road too many times to count at this point. Then Jessica notices that there’s a note and a rose on Liz’s pillow. It’s from Rene, asking Liz out on a dinner date for the next night. Liz writes back and accepts. Then the girls go grab a copy of the evening newspaper so they can see their stories in the Crime section. To their surprise, there’s a story about missing Princess Eliana on the front page again, instead of anything about Dr. Neville’s brutal murder. They find Lucy Friday’s story about Dr. Neville’s death shoved into the back of the paper, and there’s no indication that it was a murder at all. The twins are disturbed. They also figure out who the two men were that they saw at the scene with Lucy: one was the elder Lord Robert, and the other was Andrew Thatcher, London chief of police. They decide Lord Robert, as owner of the paper, must be in cahoots with Chief Thatcher to cover up the truth about Dr. Neville.

Gabriello’s friend Basil’s band Lunar Landscape is playing at the hot club Mondo in London that night, but the 11 PM curfew at HIS means everyone will have to sneak out past Mrs. Bates if they want to see the show. So, they get a group together and do just that. After making sure Portia won’t tattle on them (they ask her to go, but she says she doesn’t want to rub shoulders with the hoi polloi), the group has Lina go to Mrs. Bates in her room asking for headache medicine. Lina then manages to switch her room key with Mrs. Bates’ front door key. Jessica, Liz, Lina, David, Gabriello, and Emily then all slip out together, and meet Gabriello’s girlfriend Sophie at the club. Jessica can’t wait to meet Basil the bassist, because he’s cute. Haha, at least Jess is still herself in that she’s boy crazy and admits it, unlike Liz who’s boy crazy but tries to act holier than thou. Everyone’s head is spinning at club Mondo looking at all the London aristocracy just waltzing by right in front of the commoners. Jessica and Emily spot Lady Anne Binghamton and Emily starts talking about how she used to date Prince Malcolm, then Lina corrects her and says she actually dated Prince Douglas. Then Emily thinks she spies the prime minister’s son, Percy Camden, and Lina is all, “No, that’s his nephew Harry.” Of course, everyone wants to know how she could possibly know who these fucking people are better than gossip rag-hound Emily, and so Lina makes some obvious shit up. Liz suggests Lina and David dance and Lina keeps making excuses. Then Princess Gloria walks by and the group is stunned and they all start gossiping, but Lina freaks the fuck out when she sees Gloria. Lina says she is sick, and leaves the club. Liz tears after her after telling Jess they’ll leave the key under the flowerpot for the group so they can stay later. Lina tells Liz she was just getting overheated. The pair get slightly lost in the fog strolling home, and then they come across the body of Poo-Poo the Yorkie with his throat ripped out. Lovely evening. The police are called and just kind of yawn like, “Oh we’ll come get the body in the morning.” Liz takes lots of pictures of the dead dog because she thinks she’s Miss Marple.

In the morning, everyone who snuck out is yawning all over the place. Rene finds Liz and tells her how much he’s looking forward to their date that evening. The twins get to work and find Lucy screaming and yelling at Henry Reeves for fucking up her Dr. Neville story. She quits in a huff – Tony Frank tries to change her mind, but she yells about a cover-up and how she won’t work for a dishonest newspaper and storms out.

Liz gets the afternoon off so she can go on a sightseeing tour of London with Luke. He takes her to Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London and the Wax Museum. At the Wax Museum, they see figures of the royal family and Liz wonders where on earth Princess Eliana is. The papers are now saying she’s been kidnapped, but it’s just a sensationalist theory seemed made to distract from the truth about Dr. Neville. Then Liz and Luke look at a wax figure of a werewolf and Liz is seriously about to pee herself with fright. Get a fuckin’ grip, Liz, you wilted daffodil! Luke starts giving her werewolf facts and she’s so impressed. Turns out Luke’s mother was a werewolf aficionado. Haha, this shit is so goofy, I love it.

That night, Luke takes Liz for a meal at the Gloucester Arms pub, which is real (and yes I keep Googling this shit). Liz fills Luke in on the cover-up of Dr. Neville’s death and they get all hot and bothered over their amateur detective status. When Luke drops Liz off at HIS, he kisses her on the cheek and then she looks up to see Rene standing there glowering at them from the front door. Liz totally forgot about her date with her OTHER side piece. Rene doesn’t forgive her and stomps off. Haha, pimpin’ ain’t easy Liz.

Meanwhile, Jessica is back in the dorm room looking for something to wear for a date with Lord Robert that evening. She and Emily find a fancy dress in the closet that isn’t theirs and wouldn’t fit Portia. They realize it must be Lina’s, and are stunned that a poor girl like Lina can afford a dress like that. They figure she must’ve stolen it because there’s just no other explanation. Bitches. Jess finally gets dressed and gets Mrs. Bates to give her an extension on her curfew because Mrs. Bates is totally nuts about the royal family and is impressed by who Jessica’s date is. Give me a fucking break! Robert takes Jessica to dinner at La Mouton Noir French restaurant and then out to Club U.S.A. Hahahahahaa, Club U.S.A.! That’s what it’s freakin’ called. Sounds kinda gauche. They see Princess Gloria there toying with some guy named Burton and Robert explains that Gloria is quite the player. He then starts talking about how he’s been expelled from numerous schools. How romantic. He starts naming off members of the aristocracy he can introduce Jessica to, and offers Jessica an invitation for her, Liz, and Liz’s “beau” to join him at Pembroke Manor in the country that weekend. Jessica accepts and starts daydreaming about marrying Robert. BARF.

Todd calls Liz on the HIS house phone, and she feels guilty about all her little budding affairs. Wah. After finishing her conversation with Todd, Liz comes upstairs where Portia starts asking her questions about her family and seems wistful or something. Liz thinks about how she overheard Portia on the phone earlier, assuring her father she’d be getting a part soon, even though she’s already bragging to people she has roles. Liz is surprised Portia isn’t being snotty to her for a change. Portia goes back to the snob act two minutes later, so that’s the end of that. Lina happens to be in the shower at the time, and Liz sees her glasses lying out. Liz puts them on for no apparent reason, and is surprised to find they’re clear glass. That night, Jessica, Liz, and Lina sneak downstairs to raid the kitchen and gossip. Jess and Liz later whisper about how Lina is so strange, wearing non-corrective glasses, owning a fancy dress when she’s poor, and wearing an expensive nightgown to bed, and how she must be hiding something. WHAT COULD IT BE????

The next day, the twins root through the London Journal’s microfiche files looking for other suspicious deaths. They find an article from a few weeks ago about a Nurse Handley’s death, though there aren’t many details. It seems glossed over like the Dr. Neville article so they decide it must be another cover-up. They and Luke fill Tony Frank in on their suspicions and he takes them to see Lucy. Lucy confirms that Nurse Handley’s throat was ripped out just like Dr. Neville’s and Poo-Poo’s. She also says that the cigarette case found at Dr. Neville’s house had the initials RHP, which match both older and younger Lord Robert Pembroke’s initials. Lucy is certain that there is a serial killer on the loose and that Henry Reeves wants to cover it up for some reason. Tony Frank starts chiding her about speculation and she bitches him out and accuses him of plotting to take over her Crime editor job all along, so everyone leaves. Liz then goes on a picnic with Lina, Emily, David, and Gabriello and watches David mope around after Lina, who continues to seem somewhat interested in him, but shies away whenever he gets too close or wants to talk about Liverpool life. Liz promises to help get Lina and David together because her own love life doesn’t have enough drama.

That night, Portia stuns everyone by leaving tickets to see her on opening night in a West End play, A Common Man, for the next night. At the last minute, Lina refuses to go and confesses to Liz that she’s Princess Eliana. You see, Eliana was tired of being a princess and wanted to see what it was like being a real, unsheltered girl who could give back to the world without paparazzi all in her face, so she ran away, cut and dyed her hair, and put on some fake glasses and that was enough to fool people because apparently everyone else needs real glasses. And she doesn’t want someone to recognize her at the play and blow her secret so she can’t go. Dude, if Liz is stupid enough to not be able to recognize her … Eliana claims she told her family she was safe, so I’m not sure why she was so afraid of being seen by Gloria the other night at club Mondo. Liz promises to keep Lina’s secret, and to find a way to get Lina and David together.

Liz and the rest of the HIS gang goes to see the play without Lina and is surprised to see Portia’s name is listed as Penelope Abbott in the program. After the show, Portia explains her famous actor father, Lord Albert, is an asshole who always told her that her acting sucked, so she has been auditioning for roles under a different name because she doesn’t want to be accused of only succeeding because she’s her father’s daughter. Liz realizes Portia’s snobby act was just her preparing for her role in the play (as a snobby daughter) and explains that to everyone else and now they’re all cool with Portia. I’m not sure I buy it, but I’m supposed to also buy that werewolves exist, so I guess I sort of have to.

Prior to going out to see Portia in the play, the twins go out with Bumpo again to solve a case of some exploding produce. It seems a farmer was sneaking explosives into a rival farmer’s vegetables. Bumpo solves it after getting some food blown up half an inch from his face and surviving! Hurrah for our man Bumpo! The twins then tour Piccadilly Circus with Luke, where Jessica has her fortune told while Liz sneers about how Jessica believes in that stuff. Shut up, werewolf wench. The fortune teller only says to beware of the full moon. Jessica thinks it’s a rip off, but Liz is super skeeeered for someone who doesn’t believe in fortune telling.

That Friday, the twins take the day off to take the train to Pembroke Manor with Luke. Man, they just started this internship and they’re already getting all this flippin’ time off! I feel like the newspaper office just wants their annoying asses out of the way.

Present at the manor besides Robert, his parents, the twins, and Luke are Andrew Thatcher (the police chief) and his blond fiancee, Joy Singleton. Everyone introduces themselves and the elder Lord Pembroke seems to have some kind of problem with Luke’s last name being Shepherd.  I would have a problem with his stuck-up ass in general. Everyone goes out horseback riding and Liz and Luke decide to take a separate trail because they think they’re too good to ride with the others. They come to a clearing where Luke gives Liz a pendant to protect her against werewolves and starts in on his full moon bullshit again, then they start making out. I feel like Luke is real slick.

I should mention that Luke and Liz don’t even want to be at the manor; they’re only going because their little Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy asses want to investigate the cover-up at the newspaper. Liz can’t stop sticking her nose up at everyone. When Jessica ogles Joy’s clothes, Liz starts haughtily snarking about how snotty she’s sure Joy is, even though she literally just met her. Fuck you Liz, you ungrateful bitch, sitting there having lobster bisque served to you at the home you’re only visiting under false pretenses, while you think about how much better you are than everyone else as you cheat on your boyfriend and poop in your divine underwear over werewolves.

At dinner that night, the Constable comes by to inform Lord Robert the elder that four of his sheep have had their throats torn out. Jessica almost faints into her lobster bisque. The dinner party is now a downer so it breaks up real quick. Jessica and Robert take a walk in the garden and make out while Liz and Luke hang out indoors talking about werewolves and also making out. Luke is pulling a lot of that “I’ll protect you Liz” and positioning himself as the ultimate authority on werewolves. I’m telling you, this guy is laughing it up behind her back. That night, Liz has a nightmare about Robert and Luke, or maybe it was Robert and Rene, chasing after her yelling to beware the full moon. She wakes up in a panic and goes to check on Jessica. She finds Jessica face down in her bed, dead, with her throat torn out and starts screaming. Luke busts in and declares Jessica dead. Yeah fucking right, you know when they roll that body over in the next book, it’s going to be Joy.

The cover: Nice shot of Big Ben in the background. Nice trenchcoats on Liz and Jess as they roam around in the summer. I have no idea which twin is which since Liz isn’t wearing her barrettes. The girl on the left looks almost brunette though. The scene at the left is hilarious. Look at Liz cowering behind Luke while he mansplains about werewolves. She looks pathetic! Oh no, a creepy wax figure. Luke ain’t all that.

Other stuff: Jessica didn’t know that drivers in England use the left lane and flips out on her drive to HIS, thinking the taxi driver is using the wrong side of the road. Hurrrr! Didn’t she just watch a freakin’ movie set in London? And did she not notice the taxi driver was seated on the “wrong” side of the front seat? How did she survive her drive from the airport to the resort in Jamaica since they use the left lane there too? Why do I ask these questions?

Robert laments that his father packed him off to “Eaton” as a boy and I felt like I was supposed to know what that was so I started Googling shit again. I think they were trying to reference Eton College boarding school and failed miserably.

David tells the other HIS kids that he had two American college classmates named Zack and Kelly who didn’t know shit about Liverpool other than The Beatles were from there, and they excitedly asked him if he knew the Beatles. I’m laughing because when this book came out, it was during the first (and only) season of Saved by the Bell: The College Years, featuring Zack and Kelly. Nice reference ghostwriter especially because I could see Zack and Kelly asking just that question.

Jessica calls Liz “such a reverse snob” for making all kinds of snotty assumptions about Joy’s wealth & I’m dying. It’s funny ’cause it’s true!

Tony calls the twins “the children” at one point. I know they technically are children, but that seems like an odd thing to call two 16-year-olds, especially when they’ve been 16 for 11 years.

Fun fact: The Clash’s “London Calling” was in my head the whole time I was reading this.

In the back of the book: There’s an ad for the new series The Unicorn Club, which chronicles the twins’ lives as 7th graders, post-Sweet Valley Twins series. I felt a little old for Unicorn Club when it came out but I bought two of the books at the time, and I liked them. I still have them. I’ll have to review them much later on. 🙂

Coming up next … I guess we’ll find out if Jessica is really dead and who killed her. My money is on Liz; she finally snapped and, in a fit of rage, took her anger out on Jess for all the misery she’s put her entire family through since 1983. RRRRRrrrip!

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m looking forward to the second werewolf book! This is so much better than Bruce raging about his parents for three straight books!

#103 Operation Love Match

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Operation “Suddenly everyone cares about Bruce”

So we’re on the last book of the “Sweet Valley Passion” mini-series and, to recap, Bruce’s parents are splitting up and Bruce is acting like a fool to pretty much everyone in the state of California over it. Also, there was a Bruce/Liz thing going on that ended with Pamela and Bruce breaking up. Liz and Todd are still together even though Todd caught Liz and Bruce making out wildly in the kitchen, because I guess Todd realizes he still owes Liz one for that whole thing with her twin sister a few books back. Oh, and the thing with Suzanne Devlin, the thing with Courtney what’s-her-face from that one Super Edition, and so on and so forth.

I’m not liking this cover at all. Jessica and Liz both look nothing like Liz and Jess are supposed to look other than being blonde. Liz is doing the exact same face on this cover that she was doing on the last cover. If she wasn’t, I wouldn’t even be sure that’s Liz, since her barrettes haven’t been seen since pre-A Night to Remember. Jessica is sorta doing the exact same face, except it’s not the same girl. And what the hell is Liz wearing? I think it’s supposed to be a plaid schoolgirl-style skirt because at the time this came out, those types of skirts were starting to come back in style for teens. It kinda looks like Bermuda shorts though. I think they got the rest of the look totally off. Lawd, things I never thought I’d be doing at this age #4027: critiquing 1990s Sweet Valley fashion looks. Bruce is not getting off the hook. What is up with that shirt? Is it a mock turtleneck with imitation cap sleeves? Who styled him, the reject pile in Dana Larson’s closet? And look at that fake-ass sad expression. I think he’s doing his best Steven Wakefield impression.

Our story begins with Jessica hanging out at Casey’s Place having ice cream “to beat the heat” with Lila, Amy, Winston, and Maria because she forgot she’s supposed to be meeting Liz and Bruce to talk about how Jessica will magically reunite Bruce’s parents. Lila has gotten Jessica on an astrology kick and Jessica is reading what happens to be a real book, Linda Goodman’s Love Signs. I had this same book when I wasn’t much older than Jessica, hahaha. We learn that the twins are Geminis (how convenient) and Lila is a Leo, though I think they’ve mentioned these were their signs before. Lila reads Jessica’s horoscope out of Sweet Sixteen magazine and informs her that because Mercury is in retrograde, and Mercury rules Jessica’s sign, Jess is in for a hell of a month. Doesn’t this mean that Liz is also in for a hell of a month? Nobody talks about that. However, Lila is once again talking about throwing yet another costume party. I swear to God I have never heard of so many damn costume parties in my life. But Lila and Jessica are momentarily distracted by some hot new rich dude named Michael Hampton, a senior at SVH, who’s moved to town from Boston, because his dad is directing a Hollywood movie or something. So they sit there and salivate over him and then Jessica remembers she’s supposed to be meeting Bruce and Liz and takes off running.

She shows up well over half an hour late at their meeting spot on the athletic fields and those two dumbasses actually waited for her to show up – in a heat wave. At least she has the decency to trip and fall flat on her face on her way over to them, because Mercury’s in retrograde and all that. Then Liz and Bruce want to know what Jessica’s big plan is, so she quickly decides they will use the power of the zodiac to reconcile the Patmans, starting with a fake love letter. Oh boy. Oh yeah, and Bruce is thinking about how much he misses Pamela but how he really was “a little in love” with Liz and felt “humiliated” watching Todd and Liz’s “tender reconciliation.” Gross!

The twins have dinner with their parents, now both home from their respective business trips, and Alice starts spilling the beans to Ned about the twins’ little pool party and says they have to discuss it and come up with an appropriate punishment. She’s actually going to punish them this time? She says nothing about Liz having Todd over all week and I’m just wondering why she doesn’t at least want to give her daughter a birth control talk or something. Alice also suddenly remembers her younger twin is a psychopath and says she doesn’t think it’s a good idea for Jessica to try and get the Patmans back together after all. She demands they back off their plans that she just helped them come up with at the end of the last book! Yeah right. Ned even goes, “As a family, we’ve never believed in meddling in other people’s private affairs …” WHO THE FUCK IS HE KIDDING? That statement is a huge lie and obviously grounds for disbarment.

Anyway, Liz is obviously now just a slightly less wild Jessica (as Jessica keeps pointing out) so she says F the rules, and she and Jessica agree they have to mail the fake love letter to Mrs. Marie Patman, just because they promised Bruce they would. They compose a letter on Liz’s brand new laptop, Jessica smears her dad’s cologne all over it (why though?) and then goes outside to mail it. Just as she drops it in, she remembers that she forgot to put a goddamn stamp on it. So she reaches in hoping to be able to grab it, but of course she can’t, and then her bracelets are stuck. At that very moment, both hot Michael and a cop happen to come by. The cop yells at Jessica over his loudspeaker to stop breaking into the mailbox, then he starts threatening her and she starts sassing him. I’m waiting for him to say, “Aren’t you that girl that spiked her sister’s punch and killed her own boyfriend?” but of course he doesn’t. And then *of course* Michael waltzes up and frees Jessica from the mailbox. Jessica is embarrassed and lies and tells Michael her name is Elizabeth Wakefield, then the cop takes Jessica to the station to have her arrested where I guess she gave her real name, and then Ned comes down there and since he’s the hotshot lawyer in town he’s able to talk them into letting his daughter go. I’m about to WTF all over the place except I already know that as the hot, white, blonde twin daughters of everyone’s favorite lawyer who specializes in every field, that these twins can get away with whatever the hell they want. I mean, both of them are walking around scot-free from Sam’s death and all. Also, this scene is a little throwback to that time in the very first book when Jessica lied and told a cop she was Liz so her “reputation” wouldn’t be ruined. Although no one really seems concerned about that reputation shit now … ‘cuz those reputations are straight GARBAGE at this point!

Liz comes back from a hot date with Todd, because apparently her parents don’t care that much yet that he was just “living with” their daughter last week, and finds Jessica back home and in serious trouble, although Jessica apparently lied and said she was trying to get back a letter she wrote to Cara Walker in London, so her parents aren’t really all that mad about her digging around in the mailbox. But now Liz and Jess have to hear what their punishment is for their shenanigans last week. For throwing the party with no parents, they get grounded for a week. OMG, A WHOLE WEEK?? NO WAY! And for having Todd stay over, Liz has to do the chores for a whole week … isn’t that what she always winds up doing anyway? Some punishment! After the twins learn about their “punishments”, Jessica whines at Liz and tries to wheedle out of helping Bruce any further. But Liz must still have the secret hots for Bruce, because she manipulates Jess into doing it by implying Michael Hampton is likely friends with Bruce since they’re both wealthy and live in the same neighborhood, and Bruce might put in a good word with Michael if Jessica helps him. Man, you know something, as much as I ragged on Liz in the past, I’m kind of missing her old stodgy, goody-two-shoes self. I hope this trend of her turning into Jessica-lite-lite is over soon.

At school, Liz is hanging out with Bruce because they’re best friends now, which Todd is still struggling with, and Liz is upset he can’t handle that she keeps hanging out with the same dude that she nearly let bend her over a kitchen counter last week. Bruce mopes around after Pamela a tad, but she wants nothing to do with him because she’s smart. At lunch, Liz tells Bruce what happened with the letter while they wait for Jessica to show up to work out their next steps, but Jessica never shows and they actually give up this time. As they walk down the hall, they hear Jessica shouting for help from inside her locker. Yes, she’s stuck in there because she tried to get her history paper out, and then some football guys accidentally closed the door on her and didn’t notice. Sounds ridiculous, but, Mercury in retrograde everyone! Todd gets her out of there and Bruce grumbles because he has to help put a bunch of shit back in Jessica’s locker that she dropped when she fell in or something. Michael Hampton apparently witnesses this whole thing and Jessica is once again humiliated and starts loudly calling Liz “Jessica’ so that Mike will think Liz is the one who keeps getting stuck in mailboxes and lockers.

Liz and Jessica decide to meet up with Bruce at the Dairi Burger after school. Yes, they’re supposed to be grounded, but don’t worry, they always find some way to get around that crazy fact. And, they are STUNNED, stunned I say, that the major after-school hangout for all of Sweet Valley High is, guess what, packed with Sweet Valley High students, when they need to have a private conversation. I hope they all get a bad batch of the clam special and shit themselves in front of everyone. Instead, Jessica and Bruce bicker with one another before Jessica accidentally knocks her strawberry milkshake and Bruce’s water over, because Mercury’s in retrograde. Bruce gets milkshake on his khaki pants and I guess that’s sort of funny. He tells the twins that his parents are meeting with their divorce lawyers, the Traceys, the next day to finalize things. (The Traceys are a couple and each Patman has a different Tracey as their lawyer. How … twee.) Jessica quickly comes up with some wild plan that isn’t immediately explained and they all agree to meet up at 5 AM the next morning to carry out part A.

On the way out of the Dairi Burger, Bruce sees Pamela and tries to talk to her, but Pamela sees he’s with Liz and is pissed off, so he goes home and tosses and turns thinking about her. Wah, wah, Bruce. Jessica plunks herself down at a table where Michael Hampton is sitting by himself, introduces herself (as Jessica this time), and starts babbling, but he seems disinterested, probably because she’s putting on some weird accent, and he gets up and abruptly leaves. We then get Michael’s point of view and learn he’s a poor little rich boy that feels out of place all the time and secretly thinks Jessica’s clumsy antics are adorable, although he of course thinks it’s Liz doing those. I think Michael is kind of creepy. He’s always standing around staring mopily at people.

5 AM arrives and Bruce picks the twins up and takes them to the Traceys’ house where they proceed to put super glue into the ignition of both Traceys’ Saabs. We’re supposed to just believe the Traceys leave their nice cars sitting unlocked in their driveway, because no crime ever happens in Sweet Valley. What I really can’t believe is that Liz is voluntarily committing vandalism. Oh yeah, and it’s raining in Sweet Valley! Like, pouring down rain to the point Liz has to put on a coat and Jessica puts her mom’s pink scarf over her head (which has “Alice” written all over it … remember that detail). Of course, mercury’s in retrograde so I guess that explains these highly unusual weather conditions. And it’s also supposed to explain why Jessica does stuff like accidentally lean on the horn of the Saab she’s doctoring and make a noise loud enough to wake the dead (watch out, Sam’s gonna come shuffling out!). Bruce peels off with the girls before the Traceys wake up and catch them, and they see a cop and think they’re going to get arrested, but he’s not interested in them (probably because he saw who they were and didn’t want to get stuck listening to Ned Wakefield doing his pseudo-lawyer babble again).

At school, Jessica changes into an Alice Wakefield business skirt suit for phase 2 of their plan. Bruce is waiting for her outside, where he runs into Pamela and starts telling her the sob story of his parents splitting up. Pamela is starting to fall for it when Jessica runs up. Based on how she’s dressed, Pamela assumes she’s Liz, gets upset and leaves, so then Bruce starts getting grouchy at Jessica. Bruce and Jessica prepare to drive to the Traceys’ office building, where Jessica is supposed to totter in and leave the Patmans’ wedding photo album lying around for them to find while they wait for the Traceys, who should be late since their ignitions are totally fucked. What the fuck kind of plan is this? Before Bruce and Jessica can leave, though, Jessica drops the photo album on the ground, falls and sends a shoe flying, and then the wind blows her skirt up and shows off her “MONDAY” day of the week underwear to Michael Hampton, who’s watching them from across the parking lot because of course he is. Is this fool related to Mr. Beckwith?

Jessica starts demanding that Bruce call her Liz again so that Michael won’t suspect it’s her, and then they speed off. Jessica’s luck doesn’t improve at the Traceys’ office building. On her way in, the security guards stop her to see her building pass, although they just hand over a guest pass without any hassle whatsoever when she acts official. The elevator gets stuck with Jessica in it and so the whole wedding album plan doesn’t work because there’s apparently no emergency call button in there, so she just yanks on the doors freaking out, and hitting all the other buttons or some shit. The Patmans show up but the guards don’t ask them for their building passes, of course, and when the Patmans notice the elevator is broken the guards are just like, “Oh yeah, whatever.” So the Patmans take the stairs up to the Traceys’ office and wait and wait and wait … the receptionist explains they’re having “car trouble” which means they’re trying to get some goddamn glue out of their fucking cars. I wonder how much that shit would cost to fix? These twins suck. Then Marie and Henry start reminiscing about their honeymoon in Paris on their own, no wedding album needed! We learn that the whole reason they are getting divorced is because Marie seriously thought Henry was cheating on her with Alice Wakefield. And Henry just didn’t bother to correct her and let her go through with filing a divorce. Seriously, that’s the whole reason? Okay, so Henry has been kind of absent for a long time but damn, you’d think they could work that shit out. Instead Henry just refused to let Marie know that he hasn’t touched Alice because I guess that would be too easy. This is a weird fucking couple. Now Henry starts telling Marie that there’s nothing between him and Alice and she’s all, “Aw, really?” They make up and agree to call off the divorce and leave before the Traceys get there. They’re on their way to The Ocean Terrace restaurant when Henry suddenly pulls Alice’s scarf out of his pocket. We later learn, once I’m far past the point of caring, that Henry put on Bruce’s coat by mistake because it looks just like a coat he has. You see, Marie once bought Henry and Bruce special matching coats and scarves. And since Jessica was wearing the scarf and Bruce’s coat earlier while in the rain trying to doctor the Traceys’ cars, she must have left Alice’s scarf in there. Mr. Patman pulled the scarf out because he thought it was his coat and that he was pulling out a scarf Marie gave him. Instead he’s standing there waving a scarf with “Alice” on it all around like a big jackass. He insists he has no idea how it got there, but Marie flips out and storms out of the building. The elevator starts working again and delivers Jessica to the lobby just in time for her to witness this.

Jessica and Liz are late to school the next day because Jessica’s alarm clock didn’t go off for the third time this week, because mercury’s in retrograde. I call bullshit; this one is typical Jessica. But Liz actually waited for her to get up because she wanted to spend the time writing a heartfelt letter to her journal about that whole Bruce and Todd thing. Jesus, that makes me want to go back to bed myself ’cause BOR-ING.

When the girls show up to school, Jessica thinks she’s looking fug with baggy eyes and funky hair, and flips out when they run into Michael, who was probably hanging around behind a corner waiting for them to walk by anyway! So she starts acting like she’s Liz again. Liz keeps catching Michael staring at her because he’s crushing on fake Liz and apparently didn’t notice that Fake Liz had on a totally different outfit that same morning when they were together. The fuck? He knows they’re twins. I can’t with this mess. And at lunch time, Jessica sits with Michael uninvited, announces herself as Jessica even though he already saw her in that same outfit as “Liz” earlier, and keeps making a big deal out of how clumsy her sister is. She doesn’t think anything of it when Michael keeps wanting to talk about that same clumsy sister.

The next day is Friday, and Michael leaves flowers at Liz’s locker, with a card with a poem in it about how Liz is the clumsy girl of his dreams and asking her to let him drive her home that day. Liz puts two and two together and realizes it’s Jessica that Michael wants. Instead of just straightening things out, she accepts Michael’s offer as herself, then proceeds to act totally boring and weird so that he’ll realize Jessica’s ruse on his own. What the fuck, I fail to see how that makes any sense. But the plan works and Michael realizes he’s actually crushing on Jessica without Liz having to come out and say so because nobody can just talk to each other in these fucking books.

Winston and Maria decide to throw a “bring your own burger” barbecue party on the beach Friday night. Jessica and Liz are still grounded and despite their begging and pleading and attempts at negotiating, Alice stuns me by refusing to budge and let them to go to the party. Wow, amazing. Lila takes advantage of the situation by asking Michael to the Bring Your Own Burger party, but they don’t bring their own damn burgers so that’s bullshit. After they eat, Michael feels awkward and weird and out of place trying to get along with everyone, and he winds up just darting out of the party early. Lila is outraged and declares Jessica can have him. Well, I just want to eat a burger.

Meanwhile, people at the party gossip about how Bruce and Liz seem to be a thing since they’re always together. I really hate this Bruce-Liz storyline; it’s just so dumb and Liz is so full of herself about it with Todd. Any sympathy I had for Liz during the whole drawn-out Jungle Prom/Margo storyline is rapidly evaporating.

In Bruce parents drama, Jessica came up with a new plan to have an entire flower shop’s worth of goldenrod sent to Marie’s new house, because it seems gold is one of Marie’s favorite colors. Only Marie is actually allergic to goldenrod and so now she’s in the hospital. We haven’t had a major health scare since the last book so it was about time for something like that to happen. Henry shows up in Marie’s hospital room, and he tries to make up with her, and explain he doesn’t know why Alice’s scarf was in his coat pocket, but Marie doesn’t believe him and yells she wants to finalize the divorce, because we still have 48 pages left in the book and so they gotta drag it out a little longer. Also, Henry figures out it was Bruce who ordered the flowers but just doesn’t say anything. I hope Marie shows up at the Patman manse and shoves goldenrod flowers down her son’s throat. Oh yeah, speaking of flowers, I don’t think Liz ever told Jessica that Michael sent her flowers either. I hope the ghost of Margo appears and shoves flowers down Liz’s throat.

Jessica comes up with another scheme to keep this bullshit toodling along. Liz will secretly tape record Alice explaining her history with Henry yet again, and then drop it off at Marie Patman’s mailbox so she can hear the truth and hear Alice say that there’s nothing between her and Henry once Alice is done revamping the whole “almost married” story (which Marie already knows about). Only Jessica accidentally puts another tape that she made as a test in the mailbox instead, and that tape just has her and Lila gossiping on it. They realize this right after dropping off the tape but I guess it’s too late for them to just go back over there and fucking put in the correct tape. Lord have mercy I’m tired of this storyline.

so Jessica comes up with her last big scheme. Bruce will ask each parent (separately) to meet him in the screening room at the Patman estate at the same time, and then when they show up, if they don’t automatically kill each other, Bruce and the twins will do some kind of surprise special presentation on their love with some memorabilia from the Patman wedding lying around, or something. Only Bruce has to go rent a projector from a shop in Bridgewater – yeah fucking right, these rich business people don’t own their own projector, OKAY.  Bruce gets a flat tire on his way back, and his spare tire is also flat so he’s late, and then Jessica gets her toe stuck in the bathtub faucet and she and Liz then get trapped in their bathroom, so they’re late. I was hoping the ghost of Sam would materialize in the mirror and drown both of them but no luck.

So Marie and Henry show up  to this meeting with Bruce and he’s not there, and they weren’t expecting to see each other so they wonder what the fuck is going on, then they notice some of the wedding memorabilia Bruce had left out, and then they realize Henry wrote Bruce’s coat by mistake and find Jessica’s keys in there and figure everything out or something. Congratulations. They make up in two seconds. Then Bruce and twins rush in late and catch them making out on the couch while watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s. How precious.

To wrap up the whole dumb Michael-Jessica storyline that’s been woven in, Michael calls Jessica and asks her out, but then he takes her to the Dairi Burger, spills a milkshake on her, gets a fender bender, and steps on a “jellyfish … a poisonous jellyfish!” on the beach because I guess there are non-poisonous jellyfish that you can step on. Jessica is disillusioned and I hope we never hear of Michael ever again. Oh yeah, and Bruce finds Pamela on the tennis court and tells her he never loved Liz (you liar! you were just thinking to yourself that you did!). She shoves a tennis racket down his throat. Just kidding, they make up! THUMBS DOWN.

Other stuff: Liz refers to Alice and Hank’s romance as “her mother’s ancient love story.” DAMN! She basically just said her mom is old as fuck!

Jessica reads another astrology book called The Sun, the Stars, and You but this one seems to be fake.

The way this book presents the story of Pamela-Bruce-Liz seems off from what actually happened. Pamela says Bruce left her for Liz instead of Pamela dumping him, and then Bruce says that Liz “dumped” him for Todd which isn’t really true either.

Liz’s Oracle newspaper column is back to being called “Personal Profiles” again! What is up with this back and forth? Why am I even asking?

The ghostwriter totally forgot that Scott Trost is Jean’s boyfriend, not her best friend Sandy’s, as Jean happily tells everyone that Scott brought Sandy roses as a romantic gesture and everyone acts like there’s nothing off-the-wall about that. Or maybe there really isn’t, ’cause I always said Scott was a jerk anyway.

Barry Rork disappeared off the face of the earth in the first half of the book, and Amy kept scoping out dudes like crazy, but then he magically reappeared at the barbecue.

This book didn’t manage to forget that Liz once had a word processor. They say that she gave it to Jessica once she got her new laptop. Then the paper that Jessica typed up on it vanishes … because, say it with me boys and girls, MERCURY’S IN RETROGRADE!

Liz thinks about how all of Jessica’s crazy, spur-of-the-moment schemes never end well and recounts a few, but conveniently leaves out the Jungle Prom shit.

There’s a dude named Jason Wynter, a senior at Bridgewater High who for some reason belongs to the Sweet Valley Country Club, and Lila and Amy are salivating over him (along with Michael Hampton). Lila goes on a date with him, but finds him totally boring.

New town: San Farando, where Jason takes Lila on a date to Pedro’s Mexican restaurant.

Return of a random character: Jason Mann hoots and hollers at Liz and Todd as they make out in the cafeteria. Jason was a basketball player who I think was last mentioned all the way back in Slam Book Fever. I wonder if the same ghostwriter did both books.

Along with the Linda Goodman book, there are some other real life name drops, which are highly unusual for this series: Coke gets a mention as Bruce Patman’s morning beverage of choice, plus Burberry of London is discussed a lot as the wool coat-maker of choice for the Patmans. Did they pay Bantam Books to shill their shit?

In the back of the book: The usual shill for Sweet Valley fan club, the Sweet Valley University series, and “A Night to Remember” + Sweet Valley Terror mini-series.

Coming up next: Some shit about a werewolf?

#102 Almost Married

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Jessica is not impressed with Todd’s junk!

Woo! I remember when this book came out. I saw it on the racks at Waldenbooks in 1994 and was so confused about Liz and Todd moving in together and if that meant there was sex in this book. SPOILER ALERT – nope! Of course not!

We open on a Saturday night after spring break at Miller’s Point, where Liz and Todd are exchanging chaste kisses since Liz keeps saying it’s too hot to kiss and I guess Todd’s luxury car has no A/C. He has the car turned on with the radio on too. WTF! The Sweet Valley heat wave is ongoing, so yes, that’s definitely going to be a theme of this whole mini-series. Liz keeps wanting to talk to Todd about that whole Alice-and-Henry Wilson Patman-thing, but keeps not doing it for some reason. The reason is “The plot won’t work if she actually talks to him.” Then “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys comes on and Todd gets a wild hair up his ass. He starts talking about how much he missed Liz on his family camping trip – you know, the one she was invited on but turned down so she could do unnecessary extra credit homework instead – and how great it would be if he and Liz could move in together. Then, BAM! It turns out both sets of Wilkins and Wakefield parents will be away for the upcoming week. How convenient! The Wilkins parents are spending another week camping in Yosemite without their son. Haha, they sent his ass back to school so they could have some alone time in their tent. Alice is headed back to Chicago to work with ol’ Henry Wilson “Hank” Patman on that whole office redesign bullshit, and Ned has to attend some American Bar Association seminar. And they’re just nonchalantly taking off, leaving their twin daughters who were recently targeted by a serial killer alone in the house! No big deal! No really, they don’t care. They’re all, “Oh yeah, I’m sure you’ll be okay … this time.” Alice’s running off with Hank again naturally raises Liz’s anxiety levels and she finally explains the whole Alice-Hank thing to Jessica in private.

On Monday morning, Todd immediately starts making plans to move into the Wakefield house for the week. He’s actually pretty pushy about “moving in”, to the point the natural assumption here is that he’s trying to get in Liz’s bed, but don’t worry! He assures her he’ll stay in Steven’s room or on the couch in the den. Right! But Liz agrees he can stay, or moreover doesn’t disagree since I don’t think Todd really asks her. I can’t believe we’re supposed to think these two goody-two-shoes would actually go for deceiving their parents like this. Or that if they did, that two sixteen-year-olds could “live together” without once even trying to share the same bed.

Liz appeals to Jessica about having Todd come over and Jessica tells her she’ll only keep it a secret if Liz and Todd agree to do all her chores and make her dinner each night. Liz tells her to forget it, but Todd is like, “Oh yeah, we can totally do that,” so Liz relents and agrees. Jessica then promptly goes and tells Lila about their little plan, causing Lila to remark that living together is so “out of style.” Haha! You know, I keep waiting for these kids to start discussing the obvious which is that this makes it look like Todd and Liz are doin’ it, but nobody is! We just get a couple of raised eyebrows and a remark from Jessica that this could ruin Liz’s “reputation.”

So Todd takes Liz home from school on Monday after stopping to pack a duffel bag, and he tries to carry her over the threshold so they can officially “move in”, only it’s a disaster because he can’t get the key in the lock and hold Liz up at the same time and then he basically drops her once he gets inside, and she has to run off to answer the phone anyway. Hey, it’s Bruce! He wants to talk to Liz about that whole affair thing that Liz still hasn’t clued in Todd about. So Liz borrows Todd’s BMW and drives off as soon as she gets off the phone, leaving Todd behind to hang out with Jessica when she comes home from cheerleading practice. Jess then spills the beans about the “affair thing” and implies that Liz and Bruce might be “comforting” each other’s misery, because she thinks it would be fun to stir up some drama for Liz and Todd. Because they haven’t already had enough drama! This bitch doesn’t know when to quit! This after we just had a flashback explanation of the whole Jungle Prom shit and how Todd was subsequently involved with Jessica. Of course Todd falls for Jessica’s Bruce babbling. He’s so stupid. I can’t stand him and I wish he’d move away again. I much prefer Liz and Jeffrey.

It turns out Bruce called Liz and asked her to come over because he wanted to apologize for being an ass to her about their parents’ drama in person, or at least, that’s what he claimed. So Liz drove all the way over there just for that. Great! Bruce then suggests they look for more evidence to try and figure out what’s going on with their parents and the fact they were apparently married once. This would be an ideal time for Liz to volunteer to march to the library and scroll through microfilms, but this would be too convenient to the plot, as would just fucking asking their parents. So instead they march up to the Patman attic to root through Bruce’s parents things. Yes, they march up into the attic when Sweet Valley is having what is apparently the heat wave of the century (because it’s been mentioned on pretty much every page of the last two books). Have y’all ever been in an attic on a regularly hot day? That shit is like an OVEN. I’m just going to assume that the Patmans have a fully finished and air conditioned attic or I’ll go crazy, and I’m already crazy for reviewing this series.

So Liz and Bruce dig around and find a love letter from Alice Robertson (Liz’s mom’s maiden name) to Henry Patman, and a ring box with Alice’s engraved engagement ring and wedding band inside. Liz and Bruce start doing some awkward bonding over what they found and their shared misery because they obviously can’t do anything about this shit, then Liz remembers Todd is waiting for her and takes off, after inviting Bruce to call her anytime. Pamela shows up at the Patman manse soon after and Bruce isn’t really focused on her because he keeps thinking about Liz. Spoiler alert, that will be the case throughout this whole book. Okay, so maybe Jess was doing a good deed by warning Todd, not that Todd’s going to do much about it other than pout and stomp around.

We continue on with the whole cutesy main plot of Liz and Todd playing house together and what an inevitable disaster it is. (That’s the main plot, and the sub-plot is Liz and Bruce playing detective, but that story is so tightly wound with the main plot that I don’t think I can separate them out in this review like I usually do.) Liz comes home from the Patman estate on Monday to find Todd waiting for her, demanding to know why she didn’t tell him about the whole Alice-Hank thing. They make up and then they stay up late doing homework and making out on the couch. Jessica interrupts them to place her breakfast order for the next day. That’s right, she’s demanding breakfast now too. Liz and Todd grudgingly agree because otherwise Jess is going to tattle to their parents. Liz goes to bed super late even though she has an early newspaper meeting the next morning, but has difficulty falling asleep because she’s suddenly freaked out that she could feel the way about Bruce that her mom apparently once felt about his father. She dashes off to school super early for her meeting the next morning, leaving Todd to struggle through making Jessica’s breakfast by himself. He burns her bacon and makes a huge mess of the French toast, and he leaves pulp and seeds in her fresh-squeezed OJ. Haha, I hate pulp in my OJ too! Though I can’t remember the last time someone other than a restaurant actually made it for me FRESH-SQUEEZED. Maybe I should haul out that damn juicer that’s been sitting in my cupboard unopened for 6 years. Jessica just sits there observing his mess and laughs her ass off like a boss, having learned a thing or two from Lila, and Todd winds up tossing money at her so she can go buy her own breakfast before dashing off to make it to school on time. Meanwhile, Liz chats with Enid and lets her in on the secret that Todd is staying over.

Todd decides to get romantic and also wants to get away from Jessica, so Tuesday night he invites Liz on … a date to the Laundromat. Haha! To be exact, it’s the “Videomat” with a combination laundromat, video rental place, and coffee bar. There are even tables and chairs where you can watch your rented movie while your laundry spins. Was this a thing in the 90s? I’ve only seen arcade games in laundromats. Jessica thinks this date is hilarious and calls Lila, who calls Pamela and Amy, and they all meet at the Videomat to watch the fun. Haha, but their date is a total trainwreck. They haul two tons of Jessica’s laundry in there since they’re doing her damn chores for her (this week and, for Liz, every week, let’s be real). First they have a dumb argument over which movie to watch. Then Liz, exhausted from her lack of sleep the night before, goes and gets them espresso from the coffee bar. Todd thinks his is gross and refuses to drink the rest of it, so Liz keeps ordering more for herself and drinks six total, transforming her into a perky sprite from soap bubble hell. Finally, Todd puts too much soap in one of the washers and it busts open and overflows everywhere just as Jessica and the gang come sailing in to see him standing in a giant tower of bubbles, and they all promptly explode with laughter. Now this book isn’t one of my favorites, but this scene was pretty gold. Afterwards, Jess and crew head to the Dairi Burger, and Amy and Pamela try to get Jess and Li to tell them why Liz and Todd were at the fucking laundromat to begin with.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Patman announces to Bruce and Roger at dinner that she’s moving out tonight, and then runs out of the room crying. Bruce goes upstairs and instinctively calls Liz (who’s not there) for help rather than Pamela, then does a mild flip-out over this fact. He goes to the Dairi Burger and finds Pamela to make himself feel better.

The next morning, Liz and Todd oversleep since Liz was up late on too much caffeine, and Todd apparently chucked the den alarm clock across the room when it went off. Now he’s mad Liz didn’t wake him up. Then they realize they are late sorting and putting out the recycling for Jessica. Bruce shows up in the middle of their frantic sorting, wanting to talk to Liz about his mom. So Liz just rides off in 1BRUCE1 leaving Todd in a big pile of bottles and cans, just clap your hands. He kicks the recycling bin in anger. Can someone send Todd an anger management manual?

Liz and Todd realize they’re having problems getting along with this dumbass scheme of theirs, independently of course, since they each think the other has ESP in every fucking book. Liz wants more time to herself but won’t just say so, and Todd feels like he needs more time with Liz but won’t just say so. Liz asks Enid for advice and is told to, duh, fucking tell him you want time to yourself. Or you know, just swap out all the time you spend with Bruce for time to yourself! Instead of taking Enid’s advice, Liz spends the school day hiding from Todd. Todd on the other hand, gets advice from Ken and Winston who tell him to sweep Liz off her feet with a candlelit diner and roses and shit. Oh, and Winston is apparently on the basketball team now. His clumsy ass is the last person I’d expect to be on there, or did I forget a plot point? After school, Liz sits outside writing on the lawn and passes out from exhaustion for an hour and a half since she’s into overcaffeinating herself now. I’m really disappointed they didn’t do more with that storyline; I was hoping Liz was going to turn into Jessie from Saved by the Bell.

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So because she was knocked out on the lawn, Liz misses her ride home with Todd and of course Bruce is there to conveniently drive her home instead. Liz shows Bruce the Alice-Hank stuff she found in the Wakefield attic, and they discover that the old newspaper used to pack these items away in the trunk, has an article about Hank Patman air-dropping supplies to Alice and her friends while they did a sit-in protest at the college. By the way, Liz was totally gonna not even look at those newspapers until Bruce suggested it. YOU’RE SLIPPIN’ LIZ

Then Todd comes “home” to the Wakefield house doing some cheesy fake French accent, waving roses around, and talking about how he’s gonna make Liz dinner, only to find Liz and Bruce sitting at the kitchen table eatin’ cookies and shit following their hot attic dig. Liz already invited Bruce to stay for dinner so now Todd has to cook for him too .. and Jessica. And Lila, whom Jessica brings over so they can laugh at Todd and Liz some more. Oh and Liz has told Bruce about her and Todd “living together.” Todd is so pissed. He bought Liz some turquoise earrings, but he’s so mad he lets Jessica have them instead (especially since she’s getting his goat further with more remarks about Liz and Bruce). And what’s this dinner Todd whips up for everyone? Why, it’s shish kebab, pasta salad, and strawberry shortcake, all homemade! WTF! Why the hell weren’t my high school boyfriends making me this shit? I really doubt fucking Todd Wilkins could do this crap. Seriously! This dude doesn’t even know how to do laundry or keep bacon edible, but we’re supposed to believe he can prepare and cook full-course meals. The night ends with the following drama: Liz and Todd fight over how much Bruce is hanging around, Bruce hangs around even longer to watch a movie, and Mrs. Wakefield calls from Chicago but she’s using the same hotel room number that Mr. Patman previously told Bruce was HIS hotel room number. And everyone is convinced that cinches it. Liz tries to call the hotel to double check the room numbers, but of course that’s too sensible so Jessica stops her. Then again, hotels shouldn’t be telling random callers which rooms people are staying in.

Thursday at school, everyone is gossiping about A) what’s going on between Bruce and Liz and B) how Todd is “camping out” at Liz’s. It’s not really a secret anymore but surprisingly, Liz’s “reputation” isn’t compromised at all. After school, Liz suddenly remembers how to research, so she and Bruce decide to head over to Sweet Valley University to go through the school newspaper microfilm files in the campus library. I always loved scenes in old books where someone had to use a microfilm machine (and I’m not being sarcastic! I really did!). Liz and Bruce find the engagement announcement for Alice and Hank, then they give themselves a self-guided tour of all the spots on campus that their parents must have hung out. They just butt on in some random girl’s dorm room and everything. By the time they leave a sexual tension has built between them that’s ready to pop, but neither admits it out loud, they just drive home making goo goo eyes at one another. When they arrive back at the Wakefield homestead, Todd is upset because he didn’t know where Liz was and she lies about it for no fucking reason, saying she and Bruce were getting a library book.

The twins, Todd, and Bruce decide to go out dancing at the Beach Disco that night, even though it’s a “school night”, to take advantage of the Wilkins and Wakefield parents not being there. Bruce has to be reminded to invite Pamela along because he’s obsessed with Liz. A bunch of Jessica’s other friends manage to lie to their parents and sneak out as well and it actually sounds pretty fun. I just can’t believe goody goody Liz is acting this way. She also spends the night dancing the rumba with Bruce whenever a fast song comes on, then grudgingly dancing with Todd during the slow songs while making eyes at the Patman from across the floor. Pamela realizes something is up and gets really upset, but Bruce claims nothing’s wrong.

The twins decide to throw a pool party on Friday night and once again I can’t believe Liz is down with this. The twins make a grocery list with Todd and plan to go shopping, but then Todd learns they’re going to pick up Bruce “on the way” and he pitches a fit and refuses to go. Then when the others come back from shopping, Liz and Bruce just go ahead and flirt wildly in the pool while Todd stands by glaring and knocking over his iced tea.

The party is a hit and nobody trashes the place, but the night predictably goes wrong because it’s no fun if it doesn’t. First, Pamela confronts Bruce about Liz and he bluntly admits he does have feelings for her, but says he still loves Pamela. Pamela cries, breaks up with him and runs off. RUN, PAMELA, RUN. Bruce then finds Liz in the kitchen and starts kissing her and then Todd walks in and catches them making out. (And Caroline Pearce was apparently spying through the kitchen window too so now the whole damn party knows.) Liz starts trying to claim “it wasn’t like that” and sounds like a dipshit. Todd speeds off in his BMW angrily, where he zooms around Secca Lake before deciding this is all his fault and heading back to the Wakefield house to apologize to Liz. What? How the fuck is this your fault? Yes you’re an idiot, but Liz is the one who kept running off with Bruce from the second she let you move into the Wakefield den! Now she’s in the kitchen getting that Patman tongue while you’re moping around looking like Eeyore.

Back at the party, Liz wipes her tears and heads back outside where Pamela suddenly reappears and tells Liz that Bruce is in love with her, and that Pamela just dumped him, so now Liz can have him. Liz is all, “What? Bruce loves ME?” Liz is so upset that she goes to the pool to do a big dive to clear her head, only she bounces too high and gets knocked out on the bottom. Everyone stands around going, “durrr what do we do” until Todd shows up and saves Liz. Yes, it always takes a death or near-death for anyone to fucking just act right in these books. Todd and Liz make up and cry and all that and Jessica takes them upstairs to get them calmed down and cleaned up, then she turns around and bumps into Alice Wakefield who’s home early because she missed her family. Haha, real nice. Now Alice is outraged because her kids are partying and she forgot about that last giant party her kids threw while she and Ned were away in a previous SVH book. She says she had to park her car a half a mile away because of all the cars taking up space at their house and then adds she ran into Mr. Beckwith who told her about Todd staying there all week. (Note: Mr. Beckwith moved away in book #92 so what the fuck is he doing there!) I thought this was where Alice would ask if Liz and Todd are using protection but that just gets ignored because Alice apparently really believes Todd stayed on the couch the whole time. Alice lights into Liz about deceiving her (as much as a Wakefield parent ever will anyway) while Jessica watches with delight, and Liz sasses Alice by revealing she knows about her and Hank. Alice then gathers the twins and Bruce in the den and explains how she left Hank at the altar and how they are NOT having an affair and were never right for one another. Apparently that room they “shared” at the hotel was a big two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite with a giant living room for entertaining clients. Everyone believes her, and then decides, Alice included, that Jessica, the ultimate schemer, should put together a plan to help get Hank and Marie Patman back together. Because Jessica’s last big scheme didn’t end with a dead prom date and a DUI or anything, I’m sure this is totally safe.

So yeah … Liz is just not herself in this fucking book. Todd is a moron and a douche, but she’s an asshole to him. She’s also acting like Jessica in this book, although at least the other characters seem to realize this. But she’s dumber too. And I’m so sick of her horrendous relationship with Todd being glorified as “healthy” or whatever. I did like the funny scenes where shit went wrong, like when Todd tries to cook breakfast or do laundry. Haha! He can’t cook bacon, but he can make shish kebab y’all!

Also, Bruce is hardly the first character with divorced parents. Why isn’t Liz getting Enid or Aaron Dallas to help him if she cares so damned much?

Other bits and pieces:  It is so weird seeing these books try to go back to “normal” (hah!) storylines while having to explain that whole Jungle Prom/Margo thing in flashbacks.

There’s a whole weird scene where Ned Wakefield bitches about having to wear a suit and tie in the heat and gives that as an example of male oppression, because business women don’t wear suits I guess. I can’t tell if he thinks he’s being funny or not, but, waaaaaaaaah poor baby.

Liz’s gossip column is back to being called “Eyes and Ears” again.

Liz is STILL working on her stupid extra credit paper about her family! That shit’s not due yet? Then why the hell did she spend her spring break working on it? She can’t handle a simple paper about her mom, to whom she’s very close, and we’re supposed to believe Liz is the smartest girl in school.

The Chicago hotel Hank and Alice are staying at is called The Drake and it’s a real hotel, built in 1920 and now owned by Hilton. The way this book is written, I’m not sure if the ghostwriter realized it actually exists, or not.

Barry Rork’s name is spelled “Rourke” this time. It’s okay ghostwriter, I can’t keep that shit straight either.

Jessica thinks to herself that she occasionally considers dating Bruce again (after the events of #3 Playing with Fire) just so she can get showered with expensive gifts. She left out “…and total humiliation”, but then, we wouldn’t expect Jessica to actually learn anything.

Bruce tells Pamela he went on “a bunch of dates” with Jessica before they realized they couldn’t stand each other. I guess he didn’t want to give Pammy the real version which is: They dated seriously, Bruce was controlling and emotionally abusive, and it ended when Jessica caught him cheating on her and flung a drink all over him and made him fall backwards into the fountain at Guido’s Pizza while everyone laughed.

As previously noted: The Beckwiths moved to Washington, DC in book #92, allowing Annie and Cheryl’s fam to move into their old house. Guess that transfer didn’t work out for old Mr. Beckwith. If he’s around I can’t BELIEVE the twins thought they could get away with throwing a party – that man has always been nosy as shit.

We’re told Pamela is now SVH’s star tennis player. Did Kristin Thompson get Thanos‘ed, or did she drop out of school to train for the Olympics, or what?

This book is full of food. I mean, every other page has a description of some great-sounding snack or meal. Now I’m craving French toast, bacon, fresh-squeezed OJs, omelets, guacamole and chips, tortellini, burgers, chocolate ice cream, gazpacho, sundaes, and a bunch of other shit … shit the twins and their friends apparently eat all the time without gaining a single ounce. Bitches.

The cover: We get a scene of Todd in his boxers with the burned bacon, or whatever the fuck that square mess is, while Liz ostensibly tries to help and Jessica watches with annoyance because she wants her damn breakfast. Yeah, Liz wasn’t in that scene. Liz and Jess don’t look like their normal selves either, and that’s weird especially considering there’s a big painting of them looking totally different right above that whole painting. I like Jess’ bathrobe though. I’m sad they didn’t make Liz’s slippers into bunny slippers.

Quotes: Jessica to Liz on another heat wave day: “How can you look so cool when the rest of us are wilting like day-old prom corsages?” If I was the ghostwriter, I’d have made it say “Jungle prom corsages” to see if I could get it past the editors. LOL. Maybe even “bloody Jungle prom corsage on a dead boyfriend.” Shame? I have none.

In the back of the book: The usual ad for the fan club. Plus, the full listing of all SVH books, which of course now takes up two pages, so they had to stop putting it in the front of the books long ago.

Coming up next: The Scooby twins and Bruce work together to reunite Bruce’s parents “with disastrous results!” How could it be anything else?

 

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