Jove, $5.99, ISBN 0-515-13403-1
Historical Romance, 2002
What is it about Laura Renken’s stories and all that brother-sister thing, man? This is yet another book where the whiff from the coffee of consanguinity is a bit too strong for comfort. The heroine, Catherine Bellamy, moves from one brother to another. Seriously, I’m afraid to wonder what Thanksgiving is like at these people’s place. “When I was sleeping with your wife, or wait, maybe when I was sleeping with your sister, anyway, when I was sleeping with some woman related to your wife, I remember that… hey, where are you all running to?”
Catherine Bellamy decides to take her brother’s place in a secret Send a Message to the People Defying British Colonials Thing in 18th Century Yorktown, when she and Julian Reece Lambert, the person she is delivering the message to, are betrayed. They both go on a run together. Julian hates her because he suspects her of perfidy, but they have sex anyway, and after that he learns that she is the wife of his dead brother – a wife that this brother neglected to tell him about. Ow!
From thereon, it’s a long, wild ride of an adventure of mistaken identities, anguish, “You betrayed me!” dramatics, and other fun stuff. I really enjoy the ride, and Ms Renken can really tell a good action-paced story when she puts her mind to it. Even if upon reflection the entire premise of Wicked Lies falls apart because it relies too much on implausible coincidences, the story is mighty fun while it lasts. It’s like a rollercoaster ride, only this time I check my brain along with my glasses with the boy manning the rollercoaster ride before getting on the ride. That’s not to say that the story is stupid – Catherine isn’t stupid, that I can say – but it’s more enjoyable when I overlook the silly coincidences and deus ex machina resolutions littering the rollercoaster ride.
But eventually the author overplays Julian’s mistrust long after it has outstayed its welcome, and the man comes off like a block-headed mule.
No matter. This book is a fun adrenaline rush of a book. In fact, maybe it’s fun because so many things happen that the characters rarely have time to dwell on their self-pity. Julian “I Wouldn’t Trust My Mother Even If She Tells Me That Two Plus Two Is Four” Lambert and Catherine “My Brother-In-Law Is Better in the Sack Than My Late Husband, Woo-hoo!” Bellamy display enough chemistry to keep things running. This is adventure romance at fine form: no BS, forget everything, just shag and run.