HarperTorch, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-081899-9
Romantic Suspense, 2006
Beverly Jenkins can always be relied on to deliver strong heroines who don’t need any “female” vulnerabilities to make her “likable”. In Sexy/Dangerous, Maxine “Max” Blake is easily her most gung-ho heroine to date. She’s an ex-Marine turned security expert who is requested by the White House to cover poor Dr Adam Gary’s behind as he tries to survive all those terrorists wanting to use his brain for evil. She shows up with her two Rottweilers Ruby and Ossie and it’s time to KICK SOME ASS.
This one has a very simple storyline and there isn’t any hidden layer or out of the ordinary subplot to distract the reader. In fact, I have my doubts about the pacing in this story because the action scenes are pretty much crammed in the first few and the last few chapters. The middle portion of the book is surprisingly tranquil given the premise of the story, with Max taking up residence in Casa Gary where Max supervises the renovation of the place and make whoopee with Adam while Max’s ex even has the opportunity to show up and find time to smooch Adam’s assistant. These people must tell me the tricks they use to prevent all those Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners from being as awkward as I can imagine them to be. Everyone plays poker. Adam learns to love doggies. I want to pull my hair out. Where is the spectacular kaboom? Why isn’t the author making Max kick some ass? The heroine is built to kick asses. So why is she playing poker and making moo-moo eyes at Adam? The villain in this story is the kind parodied by those Austin Powers movies.
That’s the problem with Sexy/Dangerous, really – Ms Jenkins has a great heroine in Max but she doesn’t have the plot to really bring out the best in Max. The plot is at its best something like those James Bond movie plots, ugh. However, when Ms Jenkins decides to notch up the action late in the story, she actually pulls off those scenes very well. This suggests to me that it’s not a matter of the author being incapable of delivering the fireworks and the ass-kicking, it’s a matter of balancing more conventional romance elements and kick-ass adventure elements. I wonder what it will be like if this author comes out with a no-holds-barred “lovers on the run” story from start to finish without plot devices found in this book as well as previous romantic suspenses like fake marriages and all. I bet it will be wild.
At any rate, I don’t find Sexy/Dangerous one of the author’s better books. I don’t find it terrible, far from it – it’s a very readable story and the main characters are really likable and smart. However, I’m disappointed nonetheless by the pacing problems and the fact that Max doesn’t really get the chance to shine in the story. I can’t believe I am saying this in a review, but I actually wish there is more action here and less romance.