by Ana Leigh, historical (2001)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-81103-0

Eh. Zach is like a clumsy, slow, dim-witted late-in-stages-of-pregnancy elephant trying to do a pirouette on stage. There is a mesmerizing cheese quality to Ana Leigh's prose, and the plot is ridiculously linear, right down to ghastly one-dimensional caricature characters that emit radioactive "Look at me, I'm a car crash!" auras.

But nonetheless, it is a rather entertaining read, in a bizarre, can't-turn-away way.

Zach MacKenzie is his name, and ridiculous caricature is his game. Let's just say it's awhile since I read about a hero who is described to consort soiled doves and is "hot" for that. The last book was... gee, a Connie Mason book. Anyway, Zach may spend his time examining soiled doves' private parts, but he is also a lawman. Yee-haw. He seems like an outlaw, but he is actually undercover.

Rose Dubois is our heroine, and she wants to marry a rich man. Smart, I thought. Alas, I have to soon revise my opinion on her, do a complete one-eighty revision of opinion, in fact, after she starts having heaving bosoms and pounding temples and feverish hot flushes when Zach makes the move on her. She sees, she falls, and that's it. Love. Zach, of course, wants no woman for long term, he just lives for the day, he moves where the wind blows, et cetera - oh yeah, he thinks all women are not worth the time for commitment too. Since he has happily married parents, I don't see how. But this book is already so ineptly written, what's one more plot loophole?

Can Zach bring down the bad guy? Will Rose marry the Other Man? What happens to the Other Man, anyway? (Guess.) The plot runs everywhere, literally. There is no actual focus - while in danger, our lovely twosome can still cozy it up, have sex, go visit funfairs, et cetera. Dialogs are corny, although Connie Mason still rules in this department. The romance is typically on perpetual "fight, sex, petulant pouts, sex, repeat" mode. And for those, like me, who has no idea who the MacKenzies are, the characters from previous novels jump out to swarm the last few chapters like greedy children fighting in a free-for-all Pokemon toy giveaway spree. Who the heck are these people?

Rating: 54

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