Jun 17, 2008

I'm all Hot and Bothered by Parker's Passion, TB #61

After reviewing Close Call, I remembered that there were more Parker books, and there had been this whole harrowing episode with Brad later in the series when the authors decided it was time to make his character a little more three dimensional (therefore making it even more two dimensional). The problem was, I couldn’t really remember how the whole timeline worked out beyond remembering that I really didn’t want to read Great Expectations again. Turns out that it was Parker’s Passion I was thinking of, though it should really be called Here is a Book where Brad Townsend is Awesome or Parker and Brad's Amazing Father-Daughter err Son Bonding Fun Time Jamboree!

Oh the cover of this book. I mean, good lord how awful. Here we have Matthew Mcconaughey helping Christina saddle a horse while she is wearing the same helmet that would appear on almost every TB series book cover from 58 to the very last book. Why Matthew has taken a break from his career to put a western saddle on what is supposed to be a Thoroughbred racehorse is beyond me. If only Parker’s Passion was about Parker's newfound love for barrel racing, engendered during his observations of Lyssa and Blue’s adorable antics. And with the series’ obsession with cruelty against horses, you think they’d use a fucking SADDLE PAD every now and then. Anyway.

Parker has never wanted to run Townsend Acres, but when Brad makes him an offer he can’t refuse…

Parker Townsend has always had one passion: eventing. And as he works for a legendary trainer in England, it seems as if Parker’s dreams are about to come true. But Parker’s scheming father, Brad, wants Parker to give up his “foolish” dreams if competing in the Olympics to manage Townsend Acres when Brad retires.

Parker isn’t tempted…until Brad buys two horses whose lineages can be traced back to the legendary Welton line! Horses like these would improve Parker’s chances of competing in the Olympics, and staying in Kentucky would mean more time with Christina. In his head, Parker knows that he’ll be better off if he continues with his training…but his heart has other ideas.

Plot: When last we saw Parker, our dashing anti-hero or something like it, he was off to England to train for the US Olympic team? What? Okay, starting over. Parker has been training in England with Jack Dalton for a while, but flew back to Kentucky to watch Christina lose two out of three races of the Triple Crown because it was really important to her. He bought her a fake necklace from the track gift shop to prove that he knows how much the Triple Crown meant to her, obviously in hopes of catching her on the "my horse sucks balls" rebound. This strategy worked for him because now they are back together which means he is going to get laid again. You wily fox, Parker.

Parker is supposed to jet-set back to England, but something just doesn’t feel right, you guys. Oh yeah, he just needs to talk to Sam! She will give him advice about training Ozzie that will make him feel better, Parker thinks, conveniently forgetting that he never listens to anything anyone ever says, especially Sam. Not that this matters. He books a flight to Kentucky, pissing off his instructor in England in the process.

Whee, we are in Bluegrass country! Parker bums around Whisperwood for two days and then finally gets a chance to talk with Sam. Everything will be okay now! Except not so fast! Somehow Brad has found out that Parker is in Kentucky, and, he has made sure to wait until the exact moment that Parker's sat down to talk to Sam so that he can call and interrupt in the middle of this very important conversation. Perfect! I am now convinced that Brad is a member of the CIA or the Masons or the Illuminati. In fact, he's probably their leader.

Brad demands that Parker go over to Townsend Acres, and even though Parker knows it’s a trap, his curiosity gets the better of him so he goes over anyway. I think Parker is a masochist, really. His father drives him into a rage every time they interact, and Parker knows this will happen every time without fail, but he still interacts with his father without fail. I think having pathological obsessions/habits runs in this family.

Once at TA, Parker is understandably repulsed by the spotless grounds, well disciplined grooms, tight security, and tour buses eager to visit the legendary stable. It’s all just so soulless. All horses should live in less opulent and perfect surroundings. He makes his way up to the main house and decides he is going to rebel against his father by waiting in the kitchen instead of the library. He was going to rebel by leaving once he found out he had to wait, but this plan was foiled because Brad’s told security that Parker is not allowed to leave until they speak. So basically he’s detaining his own son against his will here.

Brad takes Parker out to the paddocks to show him his two latest purchases: world class event horses. Parker is confused as to why Brad would ever buy horses that weren’t racehorses, and Brad responds by uttering one of the best phrases in TB history, “They’re yours. I bought them for you. Happy belated birthday. Merry Christmas. Happy Easter. Do you like them?”

Parker is made even more skeptical by his dad’s unexpected show of affection, and despite this impending sense of doom he still consents to riding both horses. He gets a boner for both horses but refuses to accept them, which angers Brad to no end. He simply cannot stand when one of his devious plots fails. Though he does have the last laugh, because this little episode causes Parker to miss his plane back to England, delaying his return for the second time. I am pretty sure Brad paid the police to set up the roadblock that kept Parker trapped behind traffic and then watched the whole episode from a helicopter and laughed manically.

Parker goes to whine to Christina, obviously hoping for pity sex. But, in the middle of their charming conversation in some coffee place with a bad name, Lavinia calls and dramatically announces that Brad has just had a horrible accident. Parker, proving he is a more decent human being than his father, rushes home and suffers through Lavinia’s dramatics until he can go in and see his father. P.S. It turns out Brad was laying into one of his employees when his new stallion got loose and ran him down. Score one for the horrifically abused Townsend Acres horses.

When Parker is let in to see his father, Brad is lying all broken and bruised in the middle of his dark inner sanctum. Brad seems genuinely surprised that Parker came to see him – hasn’t he been raising his son to be an asshole, anyway? Then he gushes about how the accident made him think about what would happen to TA in the event of his death – he wants to leave it to Parker. Clearly Lavinia would not be capable of running the farm, a fact Parker doubts in the light of his father's ruthlessness.

This is basically Parker’s worst nightmare, and he refuses, even though Brad dangles the two super duper event horses in front of his nose again. Parker calls his dad a total meanie face and storms out. This pisses Brad off so much that he has to resort to the worst of all possible options: he phones his groom and demands, “I want you to sell those two miserable meatballs I just bought,” referring to the eventing horses. I think this is probably the most evil thing Brad Townsend has ever said, and it even gives Parker pause. Seriously, he almost cries at the memory of his dad referring to horses as “meatballs.” I have to admit that my eyes teared up too, but it was only because I was laughing so hard.

Parker is all upset because he’s sure that Brad will send the horses to an auction for the dog food factory or to some Italian butcher who will turn them into ravioli, but he’s super poor because Brad hates him and there can’t afford to buy the horses and save them from becoming pizza toppings. He feels so guilty that he trespasses on the property of a rich eventing friend and leaves him a note in the dirt on his window letting him know about the predicament of the two wonder horses from outer space. I am pretty sure it read, "Please stop my evil daddy from turning the unicorns into pasta." Then he goes back to England.

Blah blah, boring drama in England. Parker fights with farm owner’s stupid daughter, Parker gets lectured by Jack Dalton for being a lazy loser. Parker rides and rides and rides because there is just this huge event coming up and he has to win. Parker cries himself to sleep every night because his daddy doesn’t love him and then has wet dreams about the two eventing horses. Everything is so bleak, though we can all be proud of his determination.

But wait! Who is that coming from the distance? Why, it is Clay Townsend, leading one of the horses, Black Hawke. He divined his son’s evil intentions and, as usual, instead of disciplining him he bought someone a present to make it better! That person being Parker and that present being Black Hawke. So now Parker has three horses to train, meaning that the Olympic committee will surely pick him, and Brad’s nefarious scheme has been foiled again. And for those of you worrying that the other horse ended up on top of spaghetti, it’s okay. Parker’s rich eventing friend bought him. Everyone can rest easy now.

Points of Interest:
  • Just thought I'd note that TA has never had a Triple Crown winner. K thnx.
  • Parker's old paddock boots, which are apparently the only footwear he owns, are held together by duct tape. I find this to be unacceptable, but not for the reasons I'm supposed to.
  • Brad is good at everything: knowing where Parker is and what he's doing every second, causing planes to be late, making stablehands appear and disappear, conducting his own television interview, manipulating everyone into doing exactly what he wants even when they know they're being manipulated. He's the smartest person in the series as far as I can tell.
  • Karle Dickerson must dream of owning some sort of beverage and snack franchise just so she can give it a horrid name. From the author who brought you the ice cream place inexplicably named Soda Jerks, I bring you Brewed Attitude, the coffee house.
  • Brads description of combined training is "hauling about, jumping over a few toppled trees."
  • When Parker is back in England he hears a groom whistling "Danny Boy." First of all, I'm sure they have other songs in the U.K. Secondly, that song is Irish.
That's it for today. If there are those of you who haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. Brad's scenes alone make it worth it. I think I'll tackle The Price of Fame next. I still haven't satisfied my craving for books featuring Brad.


Anonymous said...

oh man, Brad had such incredible lines in this book. they're definitely some of the classic phrases of the series, which is impressive considering how late in the game this book was released.

i still think writing the note in the dirt was one of the stupidest things ever. Parker couldn't have pricked his finger and written in his own blood or something?

Mara said...

I wouldn't be surprised at all if Brad was a Mason. Actually, I sort of expect it.

Also, not only is he capable of all of the above, he literally gently pried Ashleigh's hands off of Glory in #18 and trained him single handedly as everyone looked on in awe. He is seriously the only character in this series with working brain cells.

And this review was awesome, by the way. Almost as awesome as Brad. ;)

Anonymous said...

Why, it DOES look like matthew!

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha snort. Parker events in DUCT TAPE boots? Sounds ugly and dangerous, though the hillbillies here in Texas swear by it.

Also, Black HawkE is such a dumb name. Tack on an E, shore.

The British (sometimes) hate the Irish. Would some Brit be whistling 'Danny Boy'?

Molly (formerly anonymous) said...

Can you even whistle Danny Boy? Those notes just draw out forever. Doesn't seem whistle-able.

And ha, I noticed the McConaughey (however the fuck it's spelled) thing straight off when I got that book. I also want to know who switched cover artists to someone who uses a really horrible cartoony style. Uuuugly.