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Key West by Stella Cameron
(Kensington, $23.00, PG-13) ISBN 1-57566-454-2
Key West has good atmosphere, pacing and romance, but it's a little difficult rooting for a heroine who's such a doormat. Also, I have a few minor quibbles regarding questions that were never answered or addressed in the story line.

Sonnie Giacano has lots of money but little peace of mind. She can't remember what happened eight months ago when she crashed her car and miscarried her unborn child. Sonnie was told that because she'd just learned that her husband, Frank, was kidnapped, she was distraught and drove her car into a wall.

But Sonnie feels there is more to it than that. Frank's a sexy tennis pro who found lots of love both on and off the court. It's not Frank's kidnapping that Sonnie finds difficult to accept -- it's the loss of her unborn child.

Emotionally and physically scarred, Sonnie, against the wishes of her parents and sister in Denver; returns to Key West looking for answers. But returning to her and Frank's home brings its own set of problems. Sonnie hears voices, lullabies to her dead baby, and she receives flowers that are a grim reminder of her loss.

Sonnie gets a job at the local bar because of the kindness of the owner, Roy Talon. Roy thinks Sonnie's a class act and he decides to recruit his brother Chris, a former NYPD police officer, to help her prove she's not delusional or paranoid, and that there really are people out to get her.

But Chris is more than a little reluctant to assist Sonnie in her quest for answers; he's just getting over his own nightmare and isn't looking to walk into someone else's. Finally, and against his better judgment, Chris decides to help Sonnie.

Chris doesn't like or trust Sonnie's brother-in-law (and former boyfriend), Romano, and Sonnie's gorgeous sister, Billy, seems all too willing to put Sonnie away in a mental institution. Although he can't be sure whether or not Sonnie is sane or being set up, he does know that he's falling for a woman with even more problems than has.

Key West is good romantic suspense, but I thought Sonnie should hang a sign on her back that reads, "Kick Me." I appreciate the fact that her character is not one to make waves; I could tolerate her putting up with Romano and Billy's obvious attempts to take over her life and fortune. But after she's beaten, almost drowned and still doesn't press charges, I found it difficult to cheer her on.

Also, after she's beaten, Sonnie decides she would rather stay with a neighbor she barely knows and thinks is strange rather than go to a hotel or back to Roy's. This contrivance allows the plot to move forward but at the expense of the reader's intelligence.

In addition, after things escalate between Sonnie and Billie, why doesn't Sonnie ever call her parents for help? And why are the details of Frank's kidnapping so sketchy? Celebrities just don't disappear off the face of this heavily wired earth without some very intense investigation.

Despite the above, I did like a lot of things about Key West. The atmosphere is great, as the pace of the story escalates so does the hurricane season. The suspense continues to build as the story line progresses: Sonnie's sanity is a question mark and there's a bit of a murder mystery added to the suspense mix.

Finally, as in last but definitely not least, I did enjoy the romance between Sonnie and Chris. The way these two characters work together and manage to overcome some serious baggage in order to trust each other and fall in love is fine romance reading.

--Judith Flavell

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