Top Secret Rendezvous
by Linda Hudson-Smith, contemporary (2003)
Arabesque, $6.99, ISBN 1-58314-397-1

If you ever wonder how things will be like if the Air Force people start an evangelist radio station, Linda Hudson-Smith's Top Secret Rendezvous may be the book to read for now. This is a military-themed romance starring two Air Force people, but the plot and dialogs are nothing more than scripts of a daytime talk-show thinly masquerading as a romance novel.

Air Force Major Zurich Kingdom (the hero) and Staff Sergeant Hailey Hamilton (the heroine) meet while having some R&R at a Texan resort. Their opening conversation is beyond bizarre: Zurich tells her to come into his room but not to make love, as he only makes love to willing women (is there a difference - or a point to this?). She answers in some equally bizarre and vapid yin-yang tao-wao style, making me wonder whether crystal-worshiping hippie dipsticks have taken over the military airbases while I'm too busy following the live feeds of Big Brother 4.

The rest of this book deals with thinly-written scenes mainly revolving around the main characters and their families and friends giving each other very preachy and epic pep talk on everything from safe sex to love to patriotism to domestic violence, and these characters are as subtle as a Scud missile crashing onto the roof of my apartment block. Zurich is one-dimensionally written as some almighty perfect lover and hero while Hailey is supposedly talented but always neurotically jealous of the women she imagines to be hiding in Zurich's underwear drawer. Subplots are randomly introduced and discarded. There is a really bizarre separation late in the end that lasts right into the epilogue. What is the author thinking?

While I do appreciate Ms Hudson-Smith's not shying away from the difficulties of two military personnel trying to conduct a romance, the whole "We cannot be separated! Oh, oh, oh, why must we be stationed in different places?" lament towards the end is a little too melodramatic for my liking. I half expect one of them to be stationed in Jupiter, the way they are going about living one day at a time and taking it easy.

The romance is pretty much dead as the main characters fall for each other the minute they meet, and the author pads the story with armchair psychology stuff one has seen repeated over and over in talk shows, stilted conversations that seem to come from hippies high on marijuana as opposed to sober people, and a rushed ending that seems to suggest that even the author herself has had enough of her own story. Giving Top Secret Rendezvous between Stultifying Boredom and Bizarro World a wide berth won't be such a bad idea.

Rating: 48

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