Runabout - Pamela Morsi My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...

Even though I don’t feel like doing a review, I think I need to get these off my chest. I had such high hopes about Luther and Tulsa’s book that I felt crushed when this ended. Everything in this book tried my patience, well, maybe except for Tulsa. I didn’t like the storyline. I hated the unwanted distractions and secondary plot lines involving characters I totally despised and was mad that pages after pages were wasted on them while Tulsa and Luther, just like Jesse’s story, got a very hasty finishing and almost no romance to speak of. But, at least in Simple Jess, the secondary plotline interested me. In this book, it just made me mad as a hellcat!


Runabout takes place 10 or so years after Wild Oats. We knew Luther has some knack for mechanical things and now he owns quite a big repairing shop for automobiles and it’s going pretty good. Arthel, his younger brother helps him out. Luther still maintains good relation with Rev. Bruder’s family and Tulsa is almost like the younger sister he never had. He cares for Tulsa but was never attracted to her. She doesn’t qualify as the woman with whom he likes to diddle with- fast and loose, with no strings attached. Yes, I knew Luther is going to be a womanizer with his good looks and all that but I didn’t like to be reminded of this over and over again. His treatment of women didn’t sit well with how he thought he should treat Tulsa, she being a respectable young lady and all that. Luther has had many ‘Saturday sweethearts’ in his 26 yrs old life and for times to come, he wants to live a carefree life. I know that he cares for Arthel a lot. He wants Arthel to go to university to study engineering. He would see Arthel settled before he marries and have his own family. Arthel is 18 now and it was very clear from Wild Oats that his match is going to be the storekeeper Titus’s beautiful daughter, Maybelle. They have their own secondary romance, about which I’ll talk later. Anyway, Luther has been seeing this woman for sometimes now. He brings her in his home, the second floor of the automobile shop, to f*ck her. This woman, who initially lived in this town (I, for the love of me, couldn’t remember if she was featured in Wild Oats) but ran off with a married man to become his mistress. She lived that life for a long time before understanding that she wouldn’t go any further with the man. Then she lived a seedy life as a barmaid with strings of affairs. You can see that she’s a veteran in these things. When she heard her father was ill, she came back to Prattville (Dead Dog’s new name) to take care of him. She could’ve chosen to change her ways but she didn’t. She always had an eye on Luther knowing he’s the handsomest man in this part of the county and even though Luther is much younger than her, she started this affair with him. Of course, her intention this time was to snare Luther and thought this would give him incentive to marry her. You know, she’s getting older and Luther has a steady income that goes pretty well with all the studly looks. But Luther never saw her anything beyond a little Saturday fun, knowing her history and all that. But she doesn’t know this yet and quite happy to carry on this way.

When the story starts, Tulsa comes in the automobile shop to repair her car, a Runabout. Luther was in bed with that woman. He actually asks her to wait for him while he goes downstairs to check on Tulsa’s car. You have no idea how disgusting this felt to me. Let me clarify why. So, while they talk about the car with Arthel present (yah, he knows about Luther’s woman and he also lives in the same apartment as far as I got it), Tulsa’s very recent broken engagement to a doctor comes into light. Doc Odious Odie works in the Millenbutter hospital, which was the Briggs mansion once (story is in Wild Oats). He got engaged to Tulsa but kinda ran on the day of the formal engagement party, mostly because Tulsa isn’t attractive enough and he had cold feet about marrying one like her. SOB!! It’s not like Moldy Odie is attractive himself and he’s much older than Tulsa with a balding pate. But on Tulsa’s mother’s insistence the poor girl thought this might be her only chance to have her own family, something she always craved. It doesn’t matter at all that Tulsa is a smart, warm and loving woman who can always put a smile on everyone’s face. It doesn’t matter that she’s a woman reporter who’s doing a great job. If you just read Skanky Odie’s description on Tulsa, you’d want to kill the man and fry his balls (though I don’t think he possess any)! So goes for most of the townspeople who is always tut-tutting about Tulsa’s lack of good looks and luck at marriage mart. Even her mother FGS! I loved this young lady so much that every time anyone tried to demean her (includes that woman), I got angry. Anyway, so as they talk, Luther takes Tulsa out on her car, totally forgetting about the woman he just left in his bed (I don’t think he was even clean, sorry but weird things come to my head), because Luther has a plan- a dumb plan but he will see that Tulsa has suitors of her own in a few days. He needs to discuss this ‘brilliant’ plan with her. All he would do is to pose as her suitor so that other men are interested in her. Can you see the humiliation? I felt that he was pitying her through this. Even Tulsa had such thought but the poor girl already had this idea about herself and she already being smitten with Luther didn’t put up much protest. So Luther would play the devoted suitor (he’s one of the most sought after bachelors after all), Tulsa will get more proposals. They’d end this farce then and he’d go about his merry ways again. Tulsa would marry, so on and so forth. After he got Tulsa’s affirmation about this plan, later on Luther meets that woman and tells her that he can’t see her for a while. The woman is angry, feeling that Luther is already dumping her (like she deserved anything else!) and she threatens Luther that she won’t let him dump her that easily. I knew she’d make trouble for them and she did. It was just pathetic.

Anyway, Luther sets the plan in motion the next day. Tulsa is concerned but goes with the flow, however Luther wants it. Her parents are totally dumbstruck; to summarize their expression- it is just unbelievable that a handsome man like Luther Briggs paying court to their ugly daughter. Same goes for the rest of the townsfolk. Luther goes to the Penny store and meets Maybelle there. He knows Maybelle’s mother would be the best gossip to spread this through the town. Luther buys a pair of ladies gloves which is the symbol of serious courting. Maybelle is totally intrigued. But she’s a bit on the dumb blonde side and has no tactics whatsoever with her words. She blurts out things without letting her brain process whatever she’s saying. Sometimes she’d say things to Tulsa which downright bordered on being rude. I wasn’t pissed at her for one and one thing only, I felt that she never meant to be mean to Tulsa intentionally. Anyway, the town is abuzz with this gossip, that heart-breaker Luther Briggs is finally settling down. And they’re dumbstruck to know it’s with the not-so-good-looking Tulsa May. Huh? Really? How come? It’s like the sun is now rising in the west or something. The earth has moved and tilted from its axis. Morons!! Tulsa herself doesn’t like all these gossips but she enjoys her time with Luther immensely. As I mentioned earlier, she has always been in love with Luther but knew that he’d never marry a plain girl like her. And so, even though she knows this adventure of theirs might end up breaking her heart, she can’t but go with it just to know how it would feel to be courted by Luther. Ah, I don’t even know what to say about this because this just made me sad.

Now, Arthel knows it’s not a true courtship and he doesn’t like it but won’t say anything to his older brother. It seems Luther has worked years for Maimie Briggs, who was their grandmother but the snotty b*tch never took them in for having Indian blood in them. But, in this book, I get to know that since Luther favored his father in looks, Maimie bequeathed all her properties to Luther, leaving Arthel, who favored his Red Indian mother, out. Luther didn’t like it and he probably gave away his inheritance, turning the big mansion into a hospital. Arthel knows about it all and that his brother cares for him a lot. Arthel also cares for Tulsa as a big sis and so he’s worried that something negative might happen.

In the course of the story, as I’ve already mentioned, that pages were wasted on that woman and her dumb life. We get to know her past and all that I’ve already mentioned. It was shown that she’s some kind of a saint because she takes care of her ill father. The whole point was to show that she’s a person deserving of reader’s sympathy. NO! A big NO from me. I don’t care!! Let me tell you why. So, the woman is still burning from Luther’s dismissal and planning some revenge. Then she goes to the store and finds out from Maybelle (you already know how) that Luther is courting Tulsa. This woman, she doesn’t even believe it. Luther and Tulsa? It’s the most ludicrous thing of all, I mean look at Luther and look at Tulsa. This woman is very sure it’s nothing serious. I mean she won’t even think about the possibility. She thinks she’s the one who should have Luther, and Tulsa is no competition for her where Luther is concerned. I wanted to slap her face and kick her out of the story. That b*tch! She was very sure of it until Maybelle informs her about the glove thing and now she’s mad and planning bigger revenge on Luther and Tulsa. No one messes with a whore; a jealous whore is even worse, right? I’m going to be mean to her because she was mean to Tulsa and I have NO qualms about it whatsoever. So she plans something with another man, who’s been sniffing around her for a while to ‘sample her charms’. If he beats up Luther bad, he can sample her all he wants.

As Luther courts Tulsa, they go to various outings and enjoy them. One was a dance, I forgot the name, sorry about that. It required holding the partners close while stepping. Luther does all the cuddling he could with her in that dance and Tulsa is mesmerized by his proximity like this. The townsfolk don’t like this display and there is talk but the good, old Rev. steps up now that it’s about his daughter. I didn’t mind it much and liked that he was at least supporting his daughter. There are other scenes with these two, where they kiss and stuff. One day, while coming back from an outing, they are soaked in rain. As no one was at home, Tulsa invites Luther in (it’s nothing new, considering the fact that Luther and Arthel lived with the Rev.’s family for a year in their teens) to freshen himself up. As she was making him coffee, Luther sees a bit more of Tulsa than he would’ve liked through her wet dress. The picture of her breasts imprints on his mind and he keeps having wet dreams about Tulsa. But when he wakes up, Luther is embarrassed about this fact. It must be the forced celibacy and nothing else! Oh good God, why does everyone has such stupid thoughts where Tulsa is concerned? Now Luther too? I was so hoping for something different, a ‘friends turned lovers’ fun ride but it turned out to be a pity play, where anything positive happening to Tulsa is the gossip of the town. Where Luther thinks its forced celibacy, when his body tells him that it wants her. What crap was that?! I didn’t know how I would believe in anything deeper from Luther’s side in this relationship.

Anyway, back to that woman. It seems Smelly Odie is looking after her father and is concerned about such a ‘fine’ woman’s future. Her father wants Odie to get Luther for her but Odie already knows about the faux courtship thingy. Even that old, decrepit, dying man doesn’t believe that Luther would marry Tulsa in the end. *someone get me a broom, I need to clean some dirt here* I didn’t think Odie was even jealous or anything, though he tried to show some righteous indignation on Tulsa’s behalf, telling her that Luther is up to no good. Ok, have to give him that a part of this was true. Then, one day, Odie goes to Luther’s shop on behalf of that woman’s father to tell Luther to ‘do the right thing’ by her. Really? It was the height of sheer hypocrisy and Luther tells him that on his face. Then, Luther and Tulsa go to attend this dance in a shady area, possibly one of the places Luther frequents. Even Luther thought it was a bad idea where a gentlewoman like Tulsa shouldn’t go. But Tulsa wants to dance and Luther gives in. As they were thinking of dancing, that woman shows up with her pimp in tow. The pimp grabs Tulsa and forces her to dance with him. He even insinuates about Luther’s relationship with the woman but Tulsa doesn’t believe it. She, being the nice girl she is, thinks the man is trying to demean two of her good friends! Oh Lord, someone save me from this misery! I mean why not Tulsa? You’re smart enough and you know Luther’s reputation, why not? And you NEVER confronted Luther about it, even when things between you two turned intimate. NEVER. WHY? But Tulsa sees that Luther and that woman aren’t dancing and it’s apparent that she’s very mad at Luther but over the sound of loud music, Tulsa doesn’t hear a thing. Then the woman provokes her pimp to start a fight. These two fight, leaving Luther badly injured. Tulsa watches that she was urging on the fight, and yet she didn’t even give it a thought as to why all these are happening, what that woman’s motives were. This left a huge hole in my enjoyment of the book, which was already quite ruined by that woman and disgusting Odie. After the fight, something happens to that woman but PM saves her. I wish she didn’t. I wish the woman killed her pimp and went to jail and suffered for the rest of her life. She runs to shifty Odie, who comes to her aid without a word since he’s been thinking about being her ‘savior’ himself at this point. C’MON I DON’T CARE ABOUT THEIR LIFE!!! It was already 17/18 chapter of this 22 chapter book and Luther and Tulsa had NO romance to speak of. NONE. NADA!! WHY DID SHE HAVE TO WASTE PAGES ON SUCH UNDESERVING CHARACTERS FOR CRYING OUT LOUD? Yes, I feel insanely mad even as I write this review!!!

Then comes another dumb twist in the plot which marked the death knell for me. As they come back from the fight, it’s apparent that Maybelle and Arthel are in trouble. Luther has been trying to tell Arthel to prepare for collage and so on but Arthel is a grown man-boy and he thinks he knows what’s best for him. He had this weird love-hate relationship with Maybelle, who’s always taunting him with her lose mouth, calling him names such as Geronimo and Buffalo Rider and so on. It could’ve been fun, it was fun in some places, but I wasn’t impressed with Maybelle to begin with so I felt nothing for this secondary romance. Now it seems like they’ve decided to ‘sort out their differences’ in the oldest of ways possible. It happened in the old cottage where Cora Briggs used to live once upon a time (story in Wild Oats). Maybelle and Arthel frequented that place when they were friends. It happened there again, only whoever found them out couldn’t identify them in the darkness. You know what happens when Luther and Tulsa understood who these two were? To save their immature arses and Luther, Tulsa takes the blame on themselves, not caring about her own reputation. And Luther blurts out that they’ve married to save her reputation. So the end result, they have to marry. OMG, again, someone save me from this utter misery!!!!! I was dying here at the demise of my high hopes and melting wishes about this book. As if Tulsa didn’t deserve Luther without this insanely dumb twist!! Whatever happened next, even the stupid love scene they had, couldn’t stir me from my comatose state caused by all these shockingly stupid turn of events!!

After torturing me for the better part of the book, the issue of that woman was swept under the rug like nothing ever happened. Did the author want me to believe that with those two living in close proximity to Luther and Tulsa, there would be a happy life for them? Can Tulsa live with her head forever in the clouds, never knowing anything about it? I don’t even know why that woman was even in the story when her involvement with Luther added NOTHING important to the plot IMO. Then again, I wasn’t even sure about the love Tulsa and Luther shared. It was not the heart-melting stuff but rather felt like the friendly love which really didn’t make me sigh at all. In the end, I’d like to apologize for this disjointed review because it was painful for me to even write this. But as I said earlier, had to get these off my chest.

3 stars, only because this is a Pamela Morsi book and I’m a big fan of hers. After all, she wrote about someone like Jesse and a series like Marrying Stone, earning all my respect in the first place. I will definitely check out more of her books later.