Breaking All the Rules

Catching Kelly

Chasing Rainbow

Letting Loose

Next Stop, Paradise

Tempting Mr. Wright

Hurricane Hannah
by Sue Civil-Brown
(HQN Books, PG-13, $5.99)ISBN 0-373-77114-2
The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. Because of alligators? Well, they do in Sue Civil Brown's latest romantic comedy Hurricane Hannah.

Buck Shanahan's involved in a high stakes political meeting (that's poker game to those on Treasure Island) when Hannah Lamont literally comes roaring in. Plagued with a faulty fuel line, her jet just barely makes it to the island. And when she's immediately accosted by some lunatic screaming about her scattering his poker cards, well it's understandable that she might be a bit grumpy.

But Buck's seen grumpy and Hannah's way beyond it. The prickly pilot is a virago from the word go. Add in an incoming hurricane and a besotted alligator and laid-back island life may never be the same!

I'm not quite sure if it's a good thing or not when my favorite character in the book happens not to be human. Okay, that's not true - I can think of tons of books in which the dog (or cat) has stolen the show. But never a gator. Not true here. Buster is easily a breakout character, who adds an innovate perspective to the book. See, Civil-Brown doesn't just give us cute asides about a flower-picking gator; she actually goes into the gator's point of view. It's a cute trick and one that definitely made this book a bit more charming.

Now, Buster's infatuated with Hannah, which I didn't quite get, because I really didn't like her that much (or Buck either for that matter). She's loud-mouthed, ungracious and a bit of a pain, even to the reader. There's only so much rudeness one can chuck up to being plucky, and Hannah takes it a bit beyond.

As for Buck, he's your average sensitive male masquerading as an alpha-male. Yeah, it didn't really work for me either. Apparently, he's had a really nasty previous marriage that's left him bitter and a bit misogynistic. His attitude didn't make him sympathetic to me, in fact I really wanted to shake him and scream "You know what? Everyone has a bad relationship! Suck it up and get on with life!" And when he later uses the term "cherished" to describe how Hannah makes him feel, well, that's when the book hit the floor for the second time.

The first time I tossed the book in disgust just happened to be during the love scene (something I rarely want to skip). Imagine my surprise when this cute, witty book has a sex scene that contains terms like "member", "pearls" and worst of all, "purple"; need I say more? This one would've definitely gotten a higher rating if the author had just closed the bedroom door.

But back to the good things. Besides Buster, the novel sported a strong secondary cast filled with the usual eccentrics one expects to find. Treasure Island itself is a wonderful setting which immediately throws the reader into their own island fantasy. Civil-Brown has created a place without government, where elections, votes and fate rest on the turn of the cards. Texas Hold-'em is more than a way of life, it's almost a religion to these people. Any poker fans out there will be more than pleased with the tricks and tips sprinkled into the story. I know I learned a few things to improve my game.

All in all Hurricane Hannah was a quick read, with entertaining (if not likable) characters, a quick-paced plot and one of the most engaging pet stories ever.

--Amanda Waters

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