Madison Murphy, Wisconsin Weirdo

By Jessica Gleason

Publisher: Champagne Books
Publication Date: December 29, 2010
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Purchased

Meet Madison Murphy, a curvaceous Wisconsin girl with a love for cheese, football and hibernating during the frigid winters.  She was a beer swilling Packers fan until the day she gave in to the nagging of her friends, went on a blind date with an unattractive bald man, got a little tipsy, got bitten by said blind date and started coughing up hairballs.  Throw in a nosy neighbor and a sexy stranger and you’ve got the makings of a wonderful foray into Wisconsin’s paranormal subculture – complete with were lions, tigers and bears and maybe a Chihuahua or two.

Goodreads Summary

I like to think that I always base my book selection on the strength of the blurb first, then some really meaningful secondary factor second, but the truth is, sometimes, I’m a shallow, shallow woman.  I’ve been swayed by the infamous mantitty, a heaving bosom in a tight pink Regency gown or even the back of a gorgeous wedding dress.  In this case, I was drawn in by the locale: the book was set in my own Wisconsin.  How fun, I thought.  I rarely find one that actually admits it (and I have no idea why), it looked sort of funny, Fictionwise was having a sale…I was so there.  I should have left.  This was a shape-shifting mess.

Madison wakes up after blacking out the night after a blind date with a Henry Limpet-wannabe.  She can’t decide if she was the one who gave it up and had pity sex or if he was, but when she woke up alone and started hacking up hairballs, she figured he gave her some sort of were-cat thing.  A rather unexpectedly smart and unflappable woman she turns out to be.  The guy shows up a little later with a brief explanation: he got overexcited during sex and chewed on her a little and he’s being punished for changing her.  Oh, and there are all sorts of different kinds of shape-shifters (he’s a dog) and there’s a guy named Max she can call if she has questions.

Madison’s nosy neighbor Sarah (she of the blind date setup and a frequent flier here in the story) decides to call Max up on her own to do..something with Madison.  Another blind date?  Help?  I don’t know.  So the very charming and handsome Max invites Madison to his office to talk about this shifter business.  Right off the bat, he’s flirting like mad with her; he has some eye issue apparently because he keeps winking at her.  Initially it’s quite charming and silly but as it continues throughout the book, it made me want to throw a bottle of Visine at him.

It was all downhill from there.  Or sideways.  Or wherever, because I was so turned around, it didn’t matter.  Madison was kidnapped by Max because she needed to be protected from some bad guys who wanted her for her special tiger self.  See, her brand of shifterness is a rarity, there’s something in there about taking over the world or at least Bascom Hall (a University of Wisconsin-Madison reference, albeit mine!).  But her BFF/nosy neighbor Sarah breaks her out, only she gets kidnapped by the bad shifters who are sort of the shifter mafia, only to get re-kidnapped by Max, who keeps winking at her, then there’s a shape-shifting ostritch….oy.  I know Max and Madison had sex along the way, more than once.  Um, that’s sort of all I remember about it, other than Max said and did a lot of smarmy things and Madison said and did a lot of smartass things.

It’s a little ironic that one of the things that made me choose this ended up being one of the little things that kept yanking me out of the story too.  In the beginning, Madison was described a little unattractively (in her mind) as a 5’7”,  two hundred pound woman who liked to drink a six pack of Pabst beer while she watched the Packer game.  No curvaceous woman, and later on, she talked about her fat rolls.  She mentions her life revolving around beer, bowling and the Packers.  And cheese soup.  I’d hit my head on my desk, but I just got a new keyboard.  I don’t know why Madison doesn’t own a foam cheese hat and go cow tipping too.  There are mentions of a few specific cities in south central Wisconsin near the end, but they’re dropped in and feel a little weird, like the story needed a little local authentic flavor beyond the football team and crappy beer.

My Summary: I kept reading this, a little bewildered and wondering if I was going to get to the meat of the story and Max and Madison’s romance soon.  I’m a total book masochist: I hate not finishing something, but this was about to get the better of me.  I’d finally decided to toss in the towel and call it my first did-not-finish of the year when the book suddenly ended!  In the middle of a somewhat important part of the story, it seriously ended and I found myself doing the, “No way, I dumped you first,” argument with a book on my Kindle.  While I think the intent here was to be zany and creative with the shape-shifter mythology and have a little fun with an unconventional heroine, this just was a muddle with both crazy and underdeveloped elements thrown into the Cuisinart and blended on high.

My Rating: D



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