Lyrics of Love by Francine Craft
(Arabesque, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-7860-0531-9
Pop diva Gina Campbell and LAPD homicide detective Joe Dauterive have loved each other for a long time. Joe and Gina’s older brother, Carson, have been best friends since college together at UCLA. The couple had dated for a while and when things began to heat up between them, Joe withdrew telling Gina “he couldn’t live in her world and couldn’t ask her to live in his.”

Gina and Carson were from a well-to-do family. They went on to achieve their own successes – Gina as a singer and Carson as a record company executive. The Campbell siblings own a private resort on Lyric Island in the South Seas, where most of the novel is set. Joe was the son of a wealthy mother who had left his father, the owner of a country general store, to marry a rich manufacturer. His father died of a broken heart.

After he ended his relationship with Gina, she married her manager. On the rebound, he married Jasmyn West, Carson’s special assistant. Although Jasmyn and Joe came from what he thought were more compatible backgrounds, she left Joe for her first love – his best friend, Gina’s brother Carson.

Joe and Gina helped each other through their respective divorces. Their friendship evolves and they eventually rekindle their love. The couple is older, wiser and determined to make up lost time. The prologue of Lyrics of Love begins on Joe and Gina’s wedding day.

Chapter one outlines their separation shortly thereafter. Joe has been implicated in a record piracy scandal and in Carson Campbell’s suspicious death in an automobile accident. Jasmyn was seriously injured in the crash. Gina has retreated to the South Seas after their breakup.

In order to protect Gina from danger while he tries to clear his name, Joe tells her their marriage was wrong and asks her to file for divorce. Of course, Gina doesn’t know that this is a ruse and her world is shattered. She has lost her brother and her husband and is plagued by small, but nagging doubts – repeated too often for me in each chapter – that Joe really could have been involved in Carson’s death. The island shaman’s tarot readings ask more questions than they answer. And not even her music can console her.

Although he hasn’t yet cleared his name, Joe flees LA and flies to Lyric Island to protect Gina after “a diving accident.” He still loves Gina very much and she hasn’t begun divorce proceedings, so he sets out to win her back. Despite the mounting circumstantial evidence against Joe, the couple works together to find “the real killer.”

In the best romantic suspense novels, readers, writers and the plot work together to uncover whodunit. Lyrics of Love is somewhat out of synch. As a result, it is an extremely predictable romantic suspense novel. I often found myself thinking several chapters ahead, impatiently waiting for the book to catch up with me. I’d figured whodunit long before all the clues were in.

There is, however, good chemistry between the two main characters. The musical seductions reinforce their love in a way that even the use of an idyllic tropical setting could not. The secondary characters are a hodge-podge of shallow, greedy Americans and pleasant islanders.

Unfortunately, music and good chemistry cannot overcome the book’s other shortcomings. Lyrics of Love hit a discordant note with me.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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