Undeniably Yours
by Jacquelin Thomas, contemporary (2001)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-131-6

This book has so many characters and a plot that has already gone underway at page one that it is bewildering. Jacquelin Thomas is definitely writing for long time fans who no doubt has followed her since day one, and she probably isn't willing to cut novices like the slack by telling me what is going on. That's a smart career move, I must say.

Anyway, I had to check out some online reviews by people who know better than me what this story should be all about, and I discover that this book is closely tied to this author's 1999 book Forever Always, where the heroine in this story was believed to be dead at the end of that book. (Thanks to the review in Romance In Color for clarifying this one.)

In Undeniably Yours, Kaitlin Ransom is alive - she has survived the plane crash in Forever Always. But she's in trouble. She is the sole witness of a murder and now bad people are after her. She runs right into the manly arms of Matthew St Charles, whom she has started sparking in Forever Always already. I wonder why Kaitlin just can't give her family a line - "Yo, I'm alive!" - but it turns out Kaitlin wants to protect her family by letting them think she's dead. Okay. Obviously she hasn't seen those movies where the bad guys will end up taking your family members hostage to flush you out anyway.

Then a sister, Sabrina, who is psychic (oh please don't ask, I'm confused enough), realizes that Kaitlin is alive, and Ray, a brother, sees a picture of Kaitlin in the newspapers. They contact Matt, who then dashes to look for Kaitlin. Will second time around be the charm? Will the killer or killers do everybody in?

Firstly, I am confused enough by what is going on here. Secondly, Kaitlin is a bit of a dimwit in the decisions she makes throughout the story, but fair enough, maybe she's stressed to the max, and stress makes people silly. But what's Matt's excuse to behave like a mule? The way he treats Kaitlin is confusing. He wants her - no, she's just like all the others, push her away, no, he wants her, after some lovey scenes, he pushes her away. The author just couldn't make these characters real or even attain some two-dimensionality. Kaitlin is either harried or trusting Matt the mostest 100% only to go boo-hoo when Matt pushes her away. Matt, of course, is blameless. It's always the woman's fault he's an ass.

But to be fair, Undeniable Yours is more well-written and less shoddily-plotted than the author's two books that I have read in the past. The misogyny, which I'd like to believe is a result of ineptness than deliberation, isn't as over-the-top as Ms Thomas' books can be, and there's one scene of tenderness that makes me feel for the two characters slightly.

But this story just can't stand alone well enough. It still relies too heavily on one-line plotting (after kissing, arguing, then petting, some misunderstanding, repeat and rinse) and easy resolutions to be effective. But according to some readers' reviews I've read in Amazon, apparently the misunderstandings are the charm of this author. I think I've been warned too late.

Rating: 63

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