Guilty Little Secrets
by Connie Lane, contemporary (2003)
Dell, $5.99, ISBN 0-440-23746-7

Like so many authors trying their hand at romantic suspense, Connie Lane fails to balance the formulaic requirements of a romance with a suspense plot to create a cohesive story. Guilty Little Secrets starts out really good but it soon morphs into a story of two silly fools having sex and bickering when they should be keeping an eye out on the bad guys.

Special Agent Rosie Malone of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco, and Firearms (aka the most useless bureau in USA) is on an undercover mission as a showgirl at a Las Vegas fanfare extravanganza. She stupidly wears clown costume, complete with huge shoes to compensate for her lack of brains, so when someone tries to run down her and the informant she is meeting, she can't run. She is saved by Mack. Mack Attack is really an ex-stripper, so going undercover as a stripper doesn't demand too much of his acting chops. As they both try to figure out who is trafficking Russian firearms, they suspect each other as well as fall in lust with each other. What to do, what to do?

The story starts out good, even if Rosie comes off like a dimwit protesting about virtue and rules when she should be living out her role as a showgirl and focus on her case. But the story takes a nosedive the moment those two get handcuffed to each other and the author just has to introduce a busload of Very Stupid Old People Who Think They Are Funny Cheering For Those Two To Kiss In Front Of Them. The author also has the villain trying to kill off Rosie and Mack Attack in a series of cartoonish episodes that can put the The Road Runner Show to shame.

In the end, this book only succeeds in being entertaining in a mildly funny way. As a story reminiscent on those Scarecrow And Mrs King type of stories, it is too cartoonish, the main characters bicker too much over petty inconsequential matters, and it is too loose in the suspense factor to be effective. It tries so hard to be "romantic" by introducing the formulaic elements one has come to expect from tepid romances (prim and proper heroine wanting to be "bad", crazy old people, a few sex scenes), but it doesn't make much of an impact either way. There are worse romantic suspense books out there, but of course, there are better ones out there too.

Rating: 74

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