by Merline Lovelace, contemporary (2001)
Signet, $5.99, ISBN 0-451-20355-0
Even the toughest Commando Babe can't outgrow her dreams of being swept off by Prince Charming, right? In Dark Side Of Dawn, chopper pilot Captain Joanna West thinks she is living a fairy tale when she rescues millionaire Alexander Taylor from a Ferrari crash and he starts wooing her like a Prince Charming made life. A plus is Alex being the grandson of the former President of United States whom Joanna and her family thinks a most worthy man.
But don't play the Cindrella waltz tune too soon - Joanna gets a bit tangled up inside when her colleague Deke Elliott (whom she trashes at video games) makes it clear that he is waiting in the wings. When Joanna realizes that she is not cut out to be Mrs Alexander Taylor, and tells Alex that, that is when her life turns into a living nightmare.
What happens when Prince Charming hides a psychotic stalker streak underneath his polished facade? Cinderella never have it this fun.
As Alex causes her to be evicted from her house and all, she turns to Deke even as someone tries to kill everybody. All this is tied to the mysterious death of the late wife of Alexander.
The suspense is pretty lightweight here, but it is more than enough to keep me reading. The first half of this story is a delightful fairy tale of Joanna being swept into another world of money and luxury. She tries her best to keep her feet on the ground, she even packs things away to tell and laugh over with her family, but the latent little girl in her who dreams of such fairy tale courtship couldn't resist. Then the bombshell drops and Alex turns crazy. Hoo, that's a fun twist I never see coming.
Deke is a rather shady character, whose personality is never made clear, but his heroism towards the end more than make up for my feeling that he's just a consolation prize for Joanna. Ironically, the second half is also a delightful romance as Deke displays his protective and territorial streak, not that Joanna needs his protection. This lady can kick butt on her own right. I am quite disappointed that the author makes her a victim at the end though, but hey, watching Deke flex his heroic muscles ain't too bad.
Dark Side Of Dawn is a fun, interesting read because it is romantic and twisted at the same time. And me, the ever perverse twisted reader, find such a story spot on. The humor is just right, the romantic moments are just wonderful, and the love scenes hold the right amount of sensuality mixed with poignant emotions.
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