In the late ‘80s next to my apartment stood this gigantic used bookstore where I mostly got my trashy novels. One of which was this spotlighted title by Robin St. Thomas from the defunct Zebra line which had always had a bad rep but could deliver some good trash from time to time. I had never heard of this writer before, but from the look of things, like the SCRUPLES-like cover for instance, I knew that I had found something that could be right down my alley. I wasn’t wrong. PLACES focuses on Aurora O’Brien, a down on her luck beauty who flees to New York to embark on a journey of self-discovery that will eventually make her one of the most sought-after women ever. How does she become the toast of the town? Easy: just by being her ravishing self (you know that’s all it ever takes in these types of work). She is helped mostly by two jet-setters who gladly show her the ropes while partying into the wee hours of the night. Such a lucky girl, you might think—well, think again because, like in all trashy novels, Aurora will suffer greatly in the name of love. She’ll not only be attracted to a gay man earlier on but will end up being on the run so not to testify against a baddie lover who causes more trouble than she can bear—all in the space of 574 pages no less.
Suffice to say I had fun reading this gem. The narrative is smooth, the characters are interesting, and the plot is easy to follow. My mind was on pause throughout the whole thing and I quite enjoyed it (sort of like the ‘80s). Nothing gets my juices flowing more than when I get myself involved with the problems of the rich. I may read the occasional horror or get myself hooked on the latest scary film but I always come back to my first love: the melodrama. These novels are my cushions from this hectic world, and PLACES is no different.
The time spent leafing through it had been so rewarding that I made it my mission to track down other novels by this author. This was all before I could access to a computer, so I visited my local thrift shops and used bookstores but came out empty-handed. I had to go abroad to finally find one (FORTUNE’S SISTERS, and the cover is sleazier). It took me a few years via Internet to finally track down the rest, and while doing so I also found out this: Robin St. Thomas is actually a pseudonym for Robin Stevenson and Tom Bade who also wrote SWITCHBACK under their own names. I’ve been trying to locate the duo team but as of June 2016 no such luck (scratch author of YA books Robin Stevenson off the list). One thing’s for sure, though. The stop’s certainly worth it if you ever get a hold of one of their titles. They may not be the greatest trashy novels out there but they sure can fill a need whenever one’s caught in between superior oeuvres.
Until next post—Martin