Ivy, $6.50, ISBN 0-449-00683-2
Romantic Suspense, 2000
This is another one of those silly-pampered-rich-girl meets heartless-spy story that marks Harlequin Temptation author Cherry Adair’s jump into big time. Kiss and Tell has some moments of humor, and I like how the heroine grows a spine and intelligence later into the story, but it is so predictable and suspense-free that I am hard-pressed to remember this book after I have finished it.
Marnie Wright is the quintessential romance heroine: rich, sheltered, spends her life pleasing Daddy and crying over dead Granny. She wants to be an artist, and after a Deepak Chopra self-discovery moment in her dead gran’s cabin (and no, no naughty solo sex toys is involved, so get your mind out of the gutter), decides to quit her job at Silicon Valley to be an artist.
Whatever rocks her boat, I guess. She wishes for danger and excitement. Well, she finds one when she meets mysterious Jake Dolan. Jake’s a sort readers of spy romances would recognize dead away – grouchy, muscular, virile, “body radiating danger” (Chernobyl?), etc.. He hates blondes after a blonde colleague tried to do a Wild E Coyote TNT act on his virile body. And Marnie is blonde.
Still, they got cut out of civilization together. And Marnie is adamant on playing Nancy Drew when someone tries to kill them both. Thing is, I know straight away the identity of the villain – the author spoon-feeds me that answer with a clue that is a complete no-brainer. It’s thus a matter of watching Marnie leaping into danger and on Jake’s pogo stick again and again.
It can be fun. Marnie thaws into some semblance of humanity as the story progresses, to the point that she actually saves Jake in the end. But Jake? What a bore. He’s the usual commitment-shy, grouchy, macho spy hero. Nothing about him deviates from the usual stereotypes preceding him. Comfort readers would be orgasmic over Jake, but me, I wonder if someone would come up with a bookish, smiley, happy secret agent – now that’ll be a refreshing change.
Kiss and Tell is an average, enjoyable, but unmemorable read. Come to think of it, it does read like an extended Silhouette Intimate Moments story with all the concessions made to the formula when it comes to characterization. Hmm.