You Only Love Twice
by Lori Wilde, contemporary (2006)
Warner, $6.50, ISBN 0-446-61516-1

Lori Wilde 's You Only Love Twice is a wacky and often over the top romantic action adventure. If you treat this one as a sober romantic suspense, you may have a hard time getting into it because the whole subplot is pretty whacked. But if you can muster the necessary mood to just think less and go along for the ride, who knows, you may just have a pretty good time as a result.

Marlie Montague is a mousy young lady who channels her wishes, frustrations, wishes, and dreams into Angelina Avenger, her comic book heroine. Angelina is like Fox Mulder crossed with Sydney Bristow, kicking the rear ends of evil people behind government conspiracies. You see, about eight years ago, Marlie's own father exposed a sinister plot among some powerful people in the US government, only to be framed and later killed by a man Marlie thought was her father's close ally. With no evidence to clear her father's name, Marlie can only vent her frustrations through her popular bestselling comic. Unfortunately, she must have accidentally stumbled upon something that the government doesn't want people to know in one of her made-believe comic book plots, because, unknown to her, the NCIS is spying on her.

Joel Hunter, the NCIS agent in question, at first believes that he is on a wild goose chase. How on earth that mousy woman next door can be involved in acts of terrorism, he can't imagine, especially when he studies his target's daily routine and believes that she is not up to anything funny. However, when it becomes clear that someone is trying to kill her, Joel decides to throw caution to the wind, goes vigilante, and run along with Marlie for the ride. He begins to suspect that Marlie may be right about how there are spooks in the government, because someone is definitely out to kill her, and he's determined to get to the bottom of the matter.

Meanwhile, there are some other subplots to add to the wacky feel of the story. The plot is easily the weakest part of this story. The logistics behind the bad guys' grand plan can be quite baffling, really, as I find it hard to imagine that these guys can pull off such a grand stunt without getting many people to notice what they are doing. The author perhaps wisely focuses as little as possible on how things are done in this story. How did that fellow get the top secret code from the bad guy? Oh, don't worry, just remember that he succeeded in doing so. Why is the private computer of the bad guy so easily hacked? Well, don't worry about it, just close your eyes and think happy thoughts...

Therefore, it is probably best that the plot is viewed as a wacky and not-very-serious romp. That approach works for me, at least, because I find You Only Love Twice far more enjoyable when I am not taking it seriously. The action is fast-paced and frantic, with the occasional pauses for hot sizzling quiet moments. Meanwhile, Joel is a typical good-natured and reliable action hero. Marlie is a mix of ditsy antics and unexpected display of competency when she has to act. She can be silly, but she is never stupid. She and Joel have some really hot chemistry going on.

I am not sure about the treatment of love in this story though. Marlie's mother, whom everyone is busting his or her behind to save, is quite annoying as this dopey woman who doesn't want to live because her husband has died and therefore, she doesn't care at all. Whenever she is in danger, she'd be, oh, she'd be with her husband, how wonderful. Poor Marlie, if only she knows that her mother is a useless twit who doesn't want to be saved. Marlie also has some weird moments, such as when she wails that she wishes that she was a virgin when she first slept with Joel because she wanted her first time to be special. I personally don't get what the fuss is about virginity from a heroine's point of view. I mean, what's the point? Whether the first time is special or forgettable, does it matter as long as she ends up having a great boyfriend who is great in bed? The two Montague women have some strange views about romance, I tell you.

Still, that's just a very minor quibble, nothing so severe that it distracts me from enjoying You Only Love Twice. Sure, it can be tighter plotted, but that would probably turn this book into something else completely different as this book's greatest strength lies in its very fun rollicking campy plot and its entertaining main and secondary characters.

Rating: 84

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