After Dark

As Good As Dead

Every Move She Makes

Her Secret Weapon

In the Arms of a Hero

The Last to Die
The Princess's Bodyguard

What She Doesn't Know

Ramirez’s Woman by Beverly Barton
(Silh. Int. Mom.# 1375, $4.99 PG-13) ISBN 0-373-27445-9
Ramirez’s Woman is the latest addition to Beverly Barton’s long running “The Protectors” series. According to Ms. Barton’s website, each member of The Protectors is “trained to protect, ready to lay their lives on the line, but unprepared for the power of love.”

In the small South American country of Mocorito, the present leader Padilla, a member of the royal class, is fighting an election that threatens to unseat him. His opponent is Miguel Ramirez, the illegitimate son of a wealthy man. Miguel was partially recognized by his father who did finance his education at Harvard and then left him a large villa. Miguel is the leader of the populist Nationalist party.

Miguel is surrounded by his three childhood friends and Padilla is surrounded by his cronies, one of whom is the wealthy stepbrother of Miguel who hates Miguel for no more reason than he exists. In what appears to be a failed assassination attempt, two of Miguel’s supporters are killed.

Since the United States is secretly behind Miguel (and wants to remain covertly so), Miguel’s appeal to the CIA for bodyguards brings forth the Dundee Agency in its place. J.J. Blair, who is fluent in Spanish, and several other agents are dispatched to Mocorito.

The plan is that J.J. will masquerade as Miguel’s fiancée in order to be his bodyguard. J.J. is a Southerner of manor born and is well able to carry off the near royalty role of fiancée to a presidential candidate. Upon her arrival, more incidents occur. The incidents lead Miguel and J.J. to the conclusion that those closest to him are the true threatened ones and he faces the tough choice of the nation’s good or the lives of his friends.

A simplistic choice, but one made by a candidate much too idealistic and good to be believed. Of course J.J. and Miguel fall in love and when the threats become more personal, Miguel fears for her safety, gradually realizing that one of his friends is betraying him.

Barton does a great job casting suspicion on each of Miguel’s friends, and shrewdly develops each character with equal depth. Balancing his friends are his step sister, step brother and the legitimate wife of his deceased father, plus the evil Padilla.

This can be a very tired plot line but since the characters are so vividly displayed, and the setting is utilized with great finesse, it is an enjoyable story. Every character is believable with the exception of Miguel who is just too wonderful to be credible.

Still the burgeoning romance swelters, which in the end balances the story out.

--Thea Davis

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