The President's Daughter

 
Tall, Dark & Texan
by Annette Broadrick
(Silh. Desire #1261, $3.75, PG) 0-373-76261-5
**
The most disappointing books for me are those that start with a bang, then die a slow whimpering death over the next eleven or twelve chapters. Annette Broadrick's Tall, Dark & Texan was one such book for me.

Dan Crenshaw deserts his family and computer business to lick his wounds after a stressful trial puts his duplicitous friend behind bars. The story opens up in a seedy south Texas bar, where Dan, grubby and unshaven, is approached by a vision in a strapless dress.

The vision is Shannon Doyle, the brainy kid sister of one of his high school football teammates. She has flown down to South Padre Island at the behest of Dan's sister, Mandy, to convince Dan that he needs to come back home to his family and his company. Shannon also needs a job, so she decides to camp out at Dan's vacation condo to convince him to hire her.

Dan can't remember Shannon from high school, but he certainly notices her now. And he can't understand why she's hanging around, doing his shopping and cooking his breakfast. He decides to go for a swim to clear away his hangover, then notices some guys giving Shannon a hard time back on shore. His protective feelings surface, and he returns to the beach, shooing the pests away. Only the pests are thugs, intent on getting Shannon face-to-face with a presumed Mafioso named Gianni Guardino.

Next thing you know, Dan awakens, with a wide-eyed Shannon next to him, in a boat that's speeding out to sea. They are transported to Guardino's yacht and Shannon is questioned about Rick Taylor, a guy she dated a few times when she lived in St. Louis. It seems as though Rick, who told her he made his money through "investments," has disappeared with some of Guardino's money. Guardino believes Shannon is telling the truth, that she knows nothing about Rick's whereabouts. It also helps her case when Dan tells Guardino that the reason why Shannon left St. Louis without Rick was because she was secretly engaged to Dan.

All this is good enough for the kind-hearted Mafioso to return the two "lovebirds" safely to shore. No cement boots for these two charmed souls.

Where it gets really murky is that Dan follows through on this engagement to Shannon. And Shannon doesn't raise any eyebrows at this. She merely follows him like a lost puppy to the jewelers, orders her wedding dress, and happily contemplates her wedding night, glad that she has "saved herself" for the right guy. All this has something to do with the fact that Shannon's big brother has popped Dan in the jaw and is forcing him to marry his virgin sister but really?

There are other problems with Tall, Dark & Texan -- but the two biggest ones are that the hero and heroine have very little emotional bond with each other and the plot is absurd, to the point where I was rolling my eyes with each twist and turn. The author could have given both characters more depth and consistency. For example, Shannon describes herself as "an aspiring hippo" in her teenage years. Now, a little under thirty, she's a knockout, but some inner dialogue at the beginning of the book reveals that she still feels "overweight and ugly." She's also rumored to be a "brain," yet she acts like a dipwad through most of the novel.

The other problem I had with this book was the copyediting errors. For example, Dan is knocked out cold by the thugs, but he later blames his headache on a hangover. He seems to forget about that bloody mess on the back of his head. And I thought that two reasonably intelligent adults would be aware that it's not safe to go to sleep after being knocked out, but this never occurs to Dan and Shannon. No, they're more worried about knocking into each other in the big stateroom bed on the Mafioso's yacht. Lastly, when Shannon's grandmother drops by Dan's office for tea, it is served in a proper pot, but with cream and sugar. Hint: coffee is served with cream, tea is served with milk.

Tall, Dark & Texan started out on a promising note, but it quickly flattened to a tolerable read.

--Diana Burrell


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