by Angela Winters, contemporary (2002)
Arabesque, $6.99, ISBN 1-58314-216-9
It is a good thing "free-spirited" (read: twit) Gabrielle "Bree" Hart and her more sober boyfriend Graham Lane have some decent chemistry going, because for most of the time the plot doesn't make sense. I am so tempted to do a super karate chop on this book during its first half, but settle down to enjoy the pretty good romantic suspense-ish second half. All in all, a very uneven book indeed.
In the first few pages, Bree declares that she doesn't like people telling her what to do, no uh, not on your life. True to romance novel heroine nitiwt style, she spends the entire story being bounced back and forth like a pingpong ball. Bree is strong and independent, ah yes, hmm, I think I have something yellow stuck between my molars, hmm.
Bree comes from a rich family, but to preserve her independence, she escapes her matchmaking family by becoming a waitress earning minimum wage. Now, with her beautiful face and body and all, you'd expect her to be waitressing while waiting for a Tommy Mottola to notice and marry her into superstardom, right? No, she's earning minimum wage because that's all she can be earning.
She doesn't want to lose her independence, so she becomes a waitress and shacks up with a deadbeat roommmate whose loanshark is now threatening her. In the meantime, every Tom, Dick, Harry, and her boss treats her like a smelly rag.
Well, as long as Bree's happy, I guess.
It gets worse. Her family wants her back. So they blackmail a college professor - yes, a college professor - who has no idea where she is to track her down and bring her back.
Oh well. It's probably cheaper than hiring a PI.
Oh well. It's easier to just pick my nose rather than worrying about this silly story.
So college professor Graham just happens to bump into Bree one day - I'm not kidding - and oops, next thing you know, they are both involved in some master crime conspiracy involving Graham, some dead people, and nasty family relatives. I have to give this author credit: she makes Bree's family so nasty to live with, I can actually see Bree running off to slave away just to escape them. But I just cannot accept the author's insistance that Bree is strong and courageous even as everybody in this story finds a way to manipulate and use our Swiss Knife Heroine Martyr here.
There are many characters from a related book, A Forever Passion. I haven't read that one, so I'm lost. I feel as if I am missing a piece of the jigsaw puzzle, because in this story, Bree's behavior doesn't make sense most of the time, and neither do the motivations of everyone else. The suspense is pretty well done, but half the time I'm like wandering blindfolded in a labyrinth.
Looks like it isn't just love, but coherence and logic that are also on the run here. Come back, come back, I'm too old to catch up, you know. Oh, a big whatever, really.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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