Dell, $6.50, ISBN 0-440-23747-5
Romantic Suspense, 2004
Dirty Little Lies gives off the impression that the author is writing this book while she’s still suffering from the aftereffects of ingesting some sort of medication that can make her very, very drowsy. This is because the story is filled with long sentences that run on and on while containing awkward turn of phrases that don’t work. It gets to a point where I often have to reread certain paragraphs to make sense of what the author is trying to say.
Lacie Jo Baxter is giving her special brand of bubblegum-flavored vapid speech at the grand opening of Mercer’s Drug Store in Klaber Falls, population soon to be minus one bimbo, when our Miss Kansas Summer Squash here is kidnapped and, er, squashed in the trunk of a car. Thankfully she still has her beauty pageant baton with her so when the kidnapper opens the trunk, thunk!
FBI agent Ben Camaglia is one of the six thousand FBI agents in Romance Novel Land that is currently smarting under some mundane assignment thingie. He is punished for his fists recently making their acquaintances with an SOB who also happens to be the son of a powerful Senator. He is charged with protecting Lacie Jo Baxter, much to his displeasure because come on, a beauty pageant queen? How long can he go? Still, attraction flares between those two even as Ben learns of the surprising reason as to why Lacie Jo is becoming a freak magnet for what seems like every loonybin villain in the area.
Lacie Jo has her moments of spunky resourcefulness, which earns her brownie points from me, but she and Ben are stuck in a story that can’t make up its mind whether to be a romance story or a madcap mystery caper. The result is a story that is stuck in-between those two extremes, neither here nor there. While the main characters are likeable if familiar types and the beauty pageant backdrop provides some colorful moments, the humor in this book veers very close to Katie MacAlister territory. You know, where “comedy” comes from the heroine’s veering from Point A in her thought train to Point Z with a thousand stops at various non-sequitur pit stops along the way. The result is a book filled with long, rambling sentences whose meanings don’t always become clear at the first reading. I am more distracted by this technical flaw than the actual flaws inherent in the storyline or in the characters.
Perhaps I may form a more favorable impression of this book if I can find time to reread it in a quiet place, but I’m afraid the story isn’t interesting enough to compel me to do so. When I’m done with Dirty Little Lies, I just think that I’ve seen all of it before and I just want to move on to another book. Oh well.