by Beverly Jenkins, contemporary (2004)
Harper, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-054067-2
The characters are nice, smart, and sensible people. Yes, this includes the heroine, how sweet. Unfortunately, Beverly Jenkins still haven't overcome the same problems that plague her debut contemporary romance in her latest, The Edge Of Dawn. The plot is still on the unbelievable cartoonish side.
Narice Jordan returns to Michigan to bury her father and is on her way to the airport to go back to Baltimore when the cab driver turns out to be a kidnapper who wants to know what her father did to the Eye of Sheba. What on earth is the Eye of Sheba? This guy is Arthur Ridley (how nice of these people to give their names to everyone who asks nowadays). Our hero Anthony "Saint" St Martin comes to our heroine's rescue. If you have read The Edge Of Midnight, you may remember Saint as Myk's foster brother who is a bit of a quiet action hero type. Narice learns that her father is murdered for the famed diamond the Eye of Sheba and now three different groups of men are hot on her tail because they think that she has the Eye, or at least knows where it is. Now lucky for her that Saint has been charged by the President himself to retrieve the Eye and he is more than happy to kick some butt while romancing the stubborn Narice on the side.
Narice has some superficial headstrong tendencies but at least she has brains and she can take care of herself. Then again, has this author's heroines ever been anything but smart and passionate women? Saint is a nice hero - loyal, reliable, and refreshingly free from the most overused typical overly angsty baggages most undercover agent heroes tend to have. He is a stereotype, make no mistake, but he doesn't act like a typical template hero when it comes to whining or moping.
But the story is a different thing altogether. While it is better than Ms Jenkins' debut contemporary in that it is free from "Huh?"-inducing plot developments like pseudo-marriages of convenience, The Edge Of Dawn suffers from several unsophisticated plot developments that exist solely to tip the scales to the favor of the good guys. This is very obvious when it comes to the villains. When the going gets tough for the hero and the heroine, the villain can always be relied on to carry out an action that is so stupid that will make even Wild E Coyote want to die of embarrassment. Lucky coincidences happen, luckier breaks crop up whenever the hero or the heroine needs one - it gets to the point where I can practically see the author's hand pushing its way into the story to move her characters around the stage. Because the plot reminds me of a typical cartoon script, there are times when Narice and Saint all but sprout red superhero capes before taking off to the air. Holy cheesecakes indeed.
I said it about The Edge Of Midnight and I'll say it again about The Edge Of Dawn: the characters rock but the plot? Falls face down onto the rocks.
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