Just as the title of Jeffery Ross’ book suggests, female romance readers are from Venus and male readers of romance are from Mars. This, I think, is the premise permeating this uniquely funny tale that ultimately deconstructs the current fascination with the romance genre.
After all, would women really expect a romance story to contain such things as a family of curious Sasquatches, visages of dark-eyed space-alien children, and a vengeful wife careening down a desolate highway in a 1973 Gremlin, desperately searching for her long-gone husband? I doubt so. Would men? Most assuredly! The story also contains Willy G.—living mannequin, Dandy Dan–ice cream man, Bob Zontarg—lead guitarist and custodian, and Dina and Dolly—exotic entertainers at the Copperfield Gentleman’s Club. These are but a few of the many delightfully quirky characters that are so artfully drawn forth in Ross’ story and that explode the mechanistic, stereotypical, often vapid mold that has become the ever-popular romance novel.
The primary setting for the story takes place in a most unlikely, unromantic place—a broken down R.V. Park in the town of Hamilton City, North New Mexico. The small town and the trailer park are inhabited by Ross’ festival of colorful characters, who are stoically living out their lives in quiet, and sometimes noisy, desperation. Even less of a romantic inclination is the plot of the story—a torrid love affair between Adam Swift, a downtrodden, motorcycle- riding, guitar-strumming, poetic/philosophic ex-English teacher, and Leah Free, a beautiful and well-bred Hamilton socialite who leaves her husband and forsakes her lavish lifestyle to live with Swift in his Spartan trailer and share his Bohemian existence. The resolution of the story, in its complexity, is a comically sardonic, delightfully “unromantic” romance tale and the conclusion is a non-sequitur non-answer to the ageless question of “What do women want?”
As with his other writings, Ross has again demonstrated his unique ability to satirically examine a seemingly trivial subject in a humorous, yet thought-provoking way. After all, why is our culture so mesmerized with romance writing that offers no intellectual inquiry, but instead transports the reader into a fantasy world that is intellectually confining in its portrayal of reality? That, I think, is the substance and intent of Love in the RV Park, a book that is well worth reading by both men and women.