by Diana Palmer, contemporary (2002)
MIRA, $23.95, ISBN 1-55166-920-X

In case anybody is wondering, I actually read the Australian paperback version of this book. No way am I paying $23.95 for this book, you think I grow money from trees at my place? Anyway, Desperado isn't a typical Diana Palmer in that - get this - the heroine actually shocks me by cracking a few funnies. She has a spine. But of course, she's like this only when she's not with the hero, Cord Romero, Spinesucker.

The relationship is vintage Palmerite chill pill: Maggie Barton has a traumatic childhood and she has loved her foster brother Cord Romero ever since she could spell "I am an idiot". Then her dreams came true when she got drunk and he got her - literally - but it all shatters to pieces when she is just Not Pure and Innocent enough for her beloved Man Slut and she had this horrible impotent abusive husband who beat her up and down but thankfully never poked her (thank you, Lord!) so she is still and always will be Cord's even should her hubby beat her until she's half-dead because she is Cord's, only Cord's, do you hear her people, SHE IS CORD'S WOMAN NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU BEAT HER - OOWWW - KICK HER - EEEARGH - SHE WILL LET ONLY CORD POKE HER - OOOOHHH! - stop it, people, you're killing her - OOOOOHHHH - what happened to mercy? - AAAARGGGHHH - oh, I give up. Give her one in the ribs for me.

Where was I?

Cord with the Navy SEAL - or is it some secret agent thing? - whatever he is, he can legally possess and use a gun, so be very afraid, people. He is almost murdered, and now he is injured. Maggie hears that, so she drops everything in Morocco and flies straight to Cord ohbabyoh Cordie's side. Cord, of course, loves her but he is never good enough for her ever since he hurt her that night, so this is his rationale for driving her away and hurting her some more. You love the puppy, so you kick the puppy all the way to the curb and onto the road and watch as a truck runs over it, because you love it too much and you know that you are no good for him.

I picture this as a play about lunatics and Desperado becomes so much more entertaining and palatable.

This book is marketed as a romantic suspense, but the suspense is hardly present in this book. What's here is the predictable Palmerite love story - he loves her, he drives her away after shagging her, and she, like a masochistic puppy, just clings on to his ankles even after he has tried to shake her off by banging her head against the wall - "I will never let go, I love you Cord, I WILL NEVER - LET - GO!" - and I groan brokenly as I press a warm herbal pad on my forehead to ease the pain.

It's a funny, read, make no mistake, because these two characters are just one knock in the head away from being full-blown mental cases. This book is up there with watching stupid fat dogs chasing their tails, only this time there's a steamroller moving in those oblivious dogs' path - it's a laugh or have a migraine scenario.

But when the going gets too masochistic, I suggest reading the amusing bad reviews on the page. When a professed fan says that she will run screaming out of the house if Cord says "little one" to the heroine one more time, well, maybe it's time to change the plot, Ms Palmer. But I wonder - without the hilariously bad characters, what good is a Diana Palmer novel? Hmm, talk about Catch-22 scenarios.

Rating: 63

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