Body Language
by Margaret Brownley
(Harl. Tempt. #705, $3.75, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-25805-5
***
Body Language is the fourth of five books in the Hero for Hire series. The first three were memorable. I guess the law of averages had to show up sometime. Or the law of probability. Or some scientific law which states that all good things must come to an end. Or if not exactly end, then they become....somewhat less than memorable.

Body Language doesn't even have a hero for hire. What we've got is Jacquie Summers, a young woman who's trying her hand at bodyguarding. She dropped out of law school and business school and has essentially been unhappy and unsuccessful at anything she's tried. Her aunt, S .J. Slade, who owns the agency, has hired Jacquie. What Jacquie really wants is to open her own private investigative firm, but that will wait. She's promised her aunt that she'll work as a bodyguard for a year.

Computer software designer Rick Westley is finishing the design on a program which will make all software programs compatible with every other program. (In our dreams.) Even though a letter bomb addressed to him blows up and almost demolishes him along with his office, he's still not sold on the need for a bodyguard. He does take advantage of his boss' isolated cabin. He's going to hole up and finish his program. When his bodyguard, Jack Summers, shows up, Rich knows that this is one bodyguard who's going to interfere with his concentration. His single-minded compulsive nerdiness rears its head. He's got a deadline, so he solves his dilemma easily. He fires Jacquie.

Don't write Jacquie off so fast. She doesn't stay fired. Instead of saving Rick, she almost kills him, three times. The back blurb mentions that she makes up for her lack of experience with dangerous enthusiasm. No kidding! I can accept flipping him too hard, injuring his back and having to take him to the hospital. I did get a little bothered when she accidentally pointed her gun, ahem there, and okay, maybe pushing Rick out of what she thinks is harm's way and instead pushes him into the path of a moving car is somewhat believable but when Jacquie disables the bad guy with an oar and then hits Rick with it, too, causing him to go into a coma, I'd had enough. Buffoonery is not an attractive trait in a bodyguard. In fact, I highlighted a sentence that I thought was the crux of the problem.

By allowing herself to get involved with Rick, she had jeopardized his safety, and that was reprehensible.

I agree completely.

There are lots of vocations that one can work at and not really do any serious harm. We've all read of the sales clerk who's fired because she tells the fat lady she's . . . fat. Or we've been introduced to the waitress who drops food on heads or laps. There are just some occupations that don't avail themselves to much humor. Want to read about an unskilled doctor? An unqualified policeman? An untrained deep sea diver? If you're not interested in an inept bodyguard, then this book is not for you. Just imagine Lucy Ricardo as a bodyguard. Hard to do, isn't it?

Jacquie isn't a bad sort. She's just floundering between careers. My whole objection to Body Language is that you don't take up a serious career like bodyguarding on a lark. The author refers to bodyguard boot camp. That bit of silliness should have been my first clue that traits of Lucy would be in evidence. Body Language disappointed me both as part of a series and as a stand alone book. There are times for humor, but I felt it was terribly out of place here.

I wanted that Hero for Hire, not a bumbling body guard. But if ineptness doesn't bother you, then you may have a different reaction.

--Linda Mowery


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