by Diana Palmer, contemporary (2005)
HQN, $6.99, ISBN 0-373-77050-2

Renegade is a sequel to last year's Lawless, where haughty and rude Tippy Moore, the Julia Roberts-lookalike actress, doesn't get her claws into the hero of that book Judd Dunn so in this book she gets rescued from all kinds of distress and danger by Judd's best buddy Cash Grier so it's love, finally.

Ms Palmer doesn't redeem Tippy from the previous book as much as she may as well have aliens kidnap Tippy and replace her with a wan and helpless dingbat because Tippy in this book is a brand new character altogether. And of course, since she is beautiful and - shock - an actress, she must be punished. So she miscarries, gets shot at when horny men are not trying to paw her (the hero, of course, is a special case altogether because he's the hero and is therefore allowed to paw the heroine whenever he pleases) when she's not running away from a past filled with all kinds of traumatic issues. Hey, when in doubt, amp the trauma in the main characters' past and hope that the readers will be moved to go, "Awww, that's so sad!" so that everything is forgiven.

In this story, Tippy is in danger from who knows what and Cash has to protect her. Their relationship is filled with "Hate! Angry! Sex!" when he is not condemning her for all kinds of sins while hating her - hating her - for things that she has no control over like he's some ten-year old brat denied his candies. Like most Diana Palmer heroes, Cash comes off like a deranged psychopath with obsessive tendencies and if this is a normal crime movie, he will be the prime suspect in the case of Tippy's no doubt deranged assaulter and stalker. Of course, Cash does stalk and assault Tippy but like I've said, he's the hero so he's allowed special privileges.

Still, Renegade still could work if the author pads the story with plenty of action scenes, but Ms Palmer unwisely chooses to ramble repetitiously while dwelling constantly on Cash alternating between wanting to shag Tippy or hate her some more and Tippy trying very hard to be the martyr of the century. In short, this story could have been a campy read if the relationship angst is pushed aside as much as possible, but Ms Palmer focuses on the characters' trust issues way too much especially in the middle portion of the story. Since the trust issues arise from Cash's enormous stupidity and Tippy's spinelessness where Cash is concerned, it is as if Ms Palmer is determined to remind me page after page that her characters are being as stupid as possible. This book is enough to make my nose bleed if I don't put the book down, yell, "Now who's the renegade here, huh? Take that!", and then sit heavily on the book out of childish pettiness every twenty pages or so.

Rating: 47

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