Hot Rain
by Kat Martin, contemporary (2002)
Zebra, $6.99, ISBN 0-8217-6935-9

Hot Rain could've been a silly Scarecrow and Mrs King kind of romantic adventure, if the heroine Mary Alice "Allie" Parker isn't dumber than a gerbil.

Of course, to enjoy this story, you have to also buy the premise that the heroine can investigate and discover clues hardened cops cannot see all in one single day.

You have to buy that a boat exploding out of the blue is a routine accident according to the cops. Allie's faster and looser friend/roommate Chrissy is in that boat with her gangsta boyfriend, and Allie is determined that it is no accident. Armed with her amateur web skills, she uses a browser to discover Clues. She, without disguises, waltzes into an insurance company and obtains Important Documents Containing Clues just like that. She learns, where cops don't, that the owner of the boat (not Chrissy's boyfriend but someone Major and Drug-Dealin') has not only upped the insurance premiums on that boat shortly before it detonated but has also commissioned a new boat as replacement before the boat goes sky-high! (Talk about covering's one tracks, eh, Mr Drug Dealer?)

You will then have to accept that our heroine can waltz onto Mr Drug Dealer's other boat, merry as you please, and overhears Bad Guys talking and arguing and again, letting on Some Important Clues. Then the boat leaves, and Allie finds herself trapped on it. There are some nasty guerilla rebels from some miserable Third World country onboard, so Allie makes some loud noise from her hiding place and gets discovered.

Rape is nigh! But lucky for her, undercover superagent Jake Dawson is there playing captain of the boat, and he demands captain's rights on Allie. The guerillas, who probably are recycled extras from some bad pirate historical romance, leer and grumble but let Jake take Allie. Jake closes the door and asks Allie to scream so that everyone thinks he is raping her.

Allie is surprised and disappointed that he doesn't actually, like, you know, rape her.

"You want me to rape you?" (This is Jake - Mrs G)

"No! Of - of course not! I just wondered... you know, why you hadn't. I'm sure if my roommate had been the one hiding in your cabin, you would at least have considered the idea. It seems kind of insulting in some way."

It is so nice to see where a heroine's priorities lie. Trapped on a boat with nasty people, and here she is, telling a stranger that she's rather disappointed that she's not sexy enough to be raped.

You will then also have to accept Allie's open and inept attempts to get off the boat even if they are in the middle of nowhere. See, heroines have to be strong, after all. Bad enough that she isn't pretty enough to be raped, she is a woman and she cannot follow orders! She must escape! Now... "Heeeelllllpppp me!"

You must also buy that Third World guerillas are morons, cowed into submission by our mighty American Eagle Hero's willpower and Righteous Justice. You must also buy that Allie is intelligent. You must also accept lots of sex scenes as substitute for decent relationship and character development.

You have all that down? You think you can do all that accepting? Then sit back and have the time of your life with Hot Rain. I need to go buy a new fly swatter.

Rating: 44

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