Lover's Lies by Daphne Clair
(Harl. Presents #1970, $3.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-11970-4
***
In Lover's Lies, New Zealand author Daphne Clair brings American readers enjoyable flavors of her country and insights into China, without sounding like a travelogue.

A hotel lobby in Beijing was the last place on earth Felicia Stevens ever expected to meet Joshua Tagget again. She noticed him in the group assembled to meet the tour director for her three-week tour of China. To her great dismay, handsome Joshua showed no sign of recognizing her when the director began identifying the travelers.

Twelve years had passed since a thirteen-year-old Felicia had been the go-between for Josh and her half sister Genevieve in their summer love affair. Genevieve had died that summer, suspected by Felicia of having committed suicide, and Felicia has always blamed Josh for the tragedy.

Felicia is torn by the age-old choice, to fight or flee the tour. Realizing flight will wreck her vacation plans and waste the cost of the tour, she decides to stay. She has mixed feelings first mollified that Josh doesn't recognize her, then furious that her sister meant so little to him that he doesn't recognize her.

The trip begins and Josh is swept away into the arms of a curvaceous Scandinavian vamp. Figuring Josh still continues to run true to form, Felicia makes a very obvious and concerted effort to avoid him at all costs. This becomes obvious to him and to the rest of the tour group. And what male can resist this? Or so Felicia tells herself as he begins a hot pursuit of her.

The problem is that not only did Felicia have a major crush on him that fateful summer, but she is also still attracted to him. Hating herself for this perversity, she rationalizes the time they spend together as being the method she will use to avenge her sister's memory.

And so she does. Spending one memorable night in his bed, she follows it by humiliating him publicly at the farewell banquet the following night. Then Felicia retreats to her home and business, emotionally torn, but relieved that she will never see him again. But Josh walks into her shop two weeks later.

Now the book is postured between Felicia's memory of her adored sister Genevieve and the reality of Josh. Author Clair spends time very logically working through a reconciliation of both. She has created well-rounded characters who evoke sympathy, and dialogue that is consistent with the mounting tension. Put this book in your stack marked leisurely reading.

--Thea Davis


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