Got Your Number Decon 1 (pg1-19)

Given that I was responsible for making Yami read Easily Amused, I finally caved on doing my own Deconstruction. And to be completely fair, I’ll be reading a book she recommended, Got Your Number by Stephanie Bond. Of course, she recommended it for a Decon so… grain of salt. Supposedly, I’ll enjoy this book because I like mysteries and fluff books but at the same time, Yami still owes me for EA. I’m not expecting much. For lack of a better method of pacing, I’ve decided to do this in blocks of an hour’s reading (and some extra if I have to in order to not stop in mid-conversation or the like) and I’ll be writing things down as I go so this will be a bit stream of consciousness.

Alright, a few pages in and we get a somewhat clumsy but fairly informative briefing on the main character. Seems one Roxann Beadleman works for an organization called ‘Rescue’ that seems to help abused women and their kids get to safety by illegal or legal means. I approve! She doesn’t seem to be getting the karma owed for such work though- crappy job, twenty-year old car (non-vintage), no significant other (last boyfriend had a bit of a drinking problem he didn’t appreciate her pointing out), dead-beat father, stalker neighbor and a her best friend/flatmate/Rescue-buddy evidently declared undying passion out of no where. Awkward. Her boss Rigby also appears to be a bit of a jerk, even if her supervisor Helen seems pretty cool.

To contrast the two, we have Rigby that gives a little gem like:

He looked down. “How come your’re not wearing black panty hose?”

“Rigby, it’s two hundred degrees.”

His head periscoped. “The hose are part of the uniform- customers don’t like bare-legged women serving them vittles!”

She didn’t dare laugh. “It won’t happen again.”

“I’m warning you, the very next time-”

“I’d better get back to my customer,” she cuts in, holding up the coffeepot.

He frowned, then snapped his fat fingers in succession. “Well, don’t just stand there- can’t you see we’re swamped?”

Now, to be fair, the use of the word ‘vittles’ only makes me chuckle because I’m from Jersey and that’s weird there. But the first of it? Even the worst boss I’ve ever had made minor allowances for the health of her employees during a heat wave. And ordering her back to work, with snapping, when you’re the one that stopped her in the first place? Sure, you need to have a talk with her about being late but you don’t do it out on the floor and you don’t do it in the middle of a busy rush.

Helen, on the other hand, not only covered for Roxann being late as best she can, but lets Roxann know she has a ‘Steve McQueen’ type waiting to talk to her, then asks if she wants Helen to tell her she won’t be in today. Or to yell if she needs someone to back her up if the guy gets out of hand. Just all around nice it seems.

While she waits for the chance to get a look at her mystery guest, Roxanne tries to guess who it could be. Her mind goes first to a recent Rescue, Melisa Cape, that made a single call to her personal cell- a necessary and understandable action thanks to panic but one that could be traced. Or it could be her father- who is introduced in these lovely sentences:

The sole reason Walt Beadleman left his La-Z-Boy in the tiny loving room of the tony house in Baton Rouge was to cast for channel cats in the Mississippi River. He’d never think of floating down to Biloxi to see his only child who was such a monumental disappointment, unless someone in the family had dropped dead.

Did anyone else immediately think that ‘unless’ would come into play at some point in this book? Anyway, we then find out about her ex-boyfriend that she only hopes has vanished to join a twelve-step program- and why does nearly every female main character in a novel have to have that really crappy boyfriend pre-book? Drunk, mooch and lousy lover, then vanishes off-screen, existing only to make the Real Love Interest(s) seem so much better in comparison. To round things out, she considers the horror that would be her stalker neighbor Mr Nealy, who hits on you at dumpsters and makes up strange rambling stories to try and express himself, harassing her at work.

But none of them resemble Steve McQueen in the slightest so… clumsy mental introductions, I guess. Moving on… Ah, cue the love interest! Rugged but handsome with it, smoker (shame), well-dressed, good taste in books… good start for this budding couple. Oh wait. He’s a cop- Detective Capistrano. Really hope his first name is easier to spell… Remember that whole ‘illegal’ bit of her hobby.

Wow, real smooth talker this guy.

(Roxanne) “You can’t smoke in here, sir.”

(Cop) “Hell. Trying to quit anyway. How about coffee?”

“Just coffee?”

“Black, hi-test. And make it quick.”

Keeping in mind that he’s a cop here to try and get some information out of her, a little politeness goes a long way, buddy. You can always be gruff and rude later but you can’t just be polite and charming after you annoyed someone and expect it to work in the slightest.

Some back and forth, good for them, vaguely amusing. Seems this is about one of her latest rescues-  the cops did trace Melisa Cape’s call to Roxann’s cell so the cop has some questions for her. Understandable enough. Equally so is her evading and lying through her teeth, what with the regrettably shady side of her work and all. When Prince Rigby snaps at her to move and help another table, the cop grabs her wrist. As an interesting note, she’s not overly intimidated, instead being annoyed that he was faster than her.

He then presses her for Melissa’s current address, this time adding physical intimidation and Rigby’s annoyance at her seemingly ignoring him to his effort. Not being overly fond of bullies, she dumps coffee in his lap- fair enough, don’t grab people, it’s rude. Especially when you’re bigger than them and a cop to boot. But remember her jerk boss? Upgrade that to asshat- he fires her without even bothering to ask her why she dumped coffee in the guy’s lap. Even when she tries to explain, he doesn’t bother listening. Nice.

So. Change ‘crappy job’ to ‘no job’ and it’s not even ten pages in. And she doesn’t have a flatmate anymore, thanks to the awkward confession, so money’s going to be kind of an issue and soon, I would think. Well, if the author is realistic, the whole issue could be ignored. We’ll just have to see.

Cue some more introspection and some tidbits about her work, some back story. Comes from a broken home herself, father won custody (not sure why, given that from what she’s been thinking, he didn’t much care for her). Fairly cliche but it works well enough- although, it’s interesting that she ended up with her father. The courts nearly always favor the mother in custody cases unless there’s a very good reason and her father is being made out to be a wastrel so what was the mother like? Unless the mother didn’t want custody and foisted her off to her dad. But so far, Walt seems to be cynical to eight year-olds and very bitter. Possibly only after the split but still interesting to note that he was the better choice.

She continues to follow the meandering path of her life as she drives away. Childhood dream to be a judge, check. College, somehow, turned that dream into vigilante social worker. Life can be funny, I guess, and possibly as a result of Dr. Carl Seger, professor of theology. Emerging as a past crush and serious influence on her life by way of a voicemail informing her that she’s a possible Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient but that he’d understand if she passed given her need to not drawl attention to herself. I already like him better than the detective just because Carl is easier to remember. He also works for Rescue, handsome, wise, noble… and evidently that prevented them from being a couple.

Yeah, that’ll come back up.

Shaking off her thoughts of Dr. Stu, she’s arrives at the gym- going to do some thinking while running. A nice character detail, I like. Seems she does it a lot, running a half mile without issue (and by scene end, a total of five miles. Very fit, given that it’s over a hundred degrees and stupidly humid).

Oh joy. How predictable. The detective has followed her and started running along side her while she was lost in thought. Huh. Wasn’t he wearing tight jeans? Seems like that would be kind of painful to run in but sure. Wow. Never mind, evidently, they help, given that he starts running backwards to look at her while carrying on a conversation. Evidently, he’s really in shape. Some more Hardbroiled Cop! posturing, more evasion and snark. Alright, the plot thickens- or rather, exists: Melissa is the witness to an armed robber that ended with a police officer being critically wounded, her husband the main suspect. Alright, fine. Capistrano kind of has a good reason to be badgering Roxanne about finding Melissa. Calling Rescue a ‘bunch of bra-burners’ is a bit much though. A lot of ‘we are police and you are just silly citizens that cannot be useful’ posturing.

Yet another important thing that already happened that we get in dribbles as mental narration:

Nanci Harmon was a confused woman whom Roxann had tried to get into counseling because she had seemed committed to cutting ties with her violent ex-husband. Sure enough, the woman had reneged on her relocation and returned to the guy, who then exposed the Rescue program as a man-hating gan of vigilantes.

Well, that probably doesn’t look all that great on Roxann’s record at Rescue. To be fair, it’s not like it’s really her fault. Some people just won’t be helped. But that does explain why the Detective went after her so aggressively- the news article that appears to be all he knows about her group was very unfavorable.

A tease about some back story trauma brought about by an off-hand taunt by the detective- Roxanne has invested nearly her entire life and most of her self-worth into Rescue, as evidenced by the utter lack of anything to show in any other area of her life. Loosing her mother thanks to the courts finding in favor of her father having custody, Roxanne puts a lot of stock in her own innate sense of judiciousness. But some hints are being dropped that not only is her faith in the cause faltering but that she has made some serious mistakes, one of which involves the good Dr. Carl and college. Wild speculation is that she cheated somehow to graduate and he knows, maybe covered for her
because of her being part of Rescue. Or used covering for her to get her to join Rescue. Hmmm.

Seems she was tracked down by the detective in the first place because Melissa had a friend that works for the wireless company get Roxanne’s cell number for her. Said cell number only being known by her father and her Rescue contact- she uses payphones for arranging Rescue work that could be traced. I would have used pre-paid cell phones but I think this is happening in the late 90’s so that’s understandable. Pay phones sill exist in significant quantity then. Lucky for Melissa her friend just happened to work for the right
wireless company… and that it was in Roxanne’s name. Completely not the author covering a plot hole. No ma’am. Anyway. he finally leaves without getting anything out of her but not without threatening her with obstruction of justice and assaulting a police officer. Good to know he’s not one to abuse his position of power or anything. She finishes her run and heads home after showing.

And we’ll end on a nice little cliffie- she gets a a wedding invitation in the mail. Considering she’s semi-secret agent girl and has all of two personal relationships (Dad and Dr. Carl, either of whom she’s talked to in at least months), that’s a bit strange.

All in all, not a terrible start to things. So far, we only have one real character given to us to really know. Luckily, Roxanne has been a good view-point character, no annoying dialogue habits (looking at you, Anita) or the like. The detective will become a reoccurring
character, I imagine, but he’s still just a flat cliche. Really hoping that changes quickly. Dr. Carl is just an ideal and thus a plot device, not a character. Same with Melissa. Her boss and supervisor are almost certainly never to return. So yeah, twenty pages in and one
character. Actually, that kind of makes sense. One of the things Roxanne dwells on a lot is how lonely her life is so that fits in with the theme pretty well. I’d like to think that was intentional but I have some doubts.

The plot is still kind of nebulous and simple, but it’s early yet. It would have been nice if we’d been there two weeks ago for when Roxanne helped Melissa escape in the first place so I would actually care about her but that might come latter- then again, the author seems to have a habit of using ‘mental flashbacks’ to give back story so that’s probably the best I’ll get until Roxanne has to rejoin/rescue Melissa again. Still, the idea of Rescue is interesting and is very fertile ground for future plot hooks and characters.

So yeah, I have some hope still for this. Needs some work fleshing out the other characters (and some other characters to be fleshed out) but
there’s over three hundred pages to go so we have plenty of time for
that to happen.

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One Response to Got Your Number Decon 1 (pg1-19)

  1. Firedrake says:

    “why does nearly every female main character in a novel have to have that really crappy boyfriend pre-book?”

    In short, if she’s capable of getting married, why hasn’t she done so before now?

    It’s a romance, so she’s got to get into a relationship. But the writer doesn’t want her to be seen as “trading up” when the hero comes along, so either she isn’t in one at the book’s start or the ending is forced on her (the guy dies, or leaves, or does something really blatant to force her away such as getting caught cheating). If she isn’t in a relationship, she has to be seen to be at least capable of forming them (once upon a time romances were mostly about virgins having first-and-only loves but, thank goodness, that’s no longer true).

    Some of this comes from worries about the heroine as audience identification figure, and I think some of it is just habit.

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