Did You Say Married?

The Rough and Ready Rancher

In Bed with the Enemy
by Kathie DeNosky
(Silh. Desire #1521, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-76521-5
Romance series are meant to have stories that continue from book to book. Often when reading one, there are pieces left unwritten to tempt you to purchase the next book. But a good book still stands alone and finishes the story in that installment. This one simply screeched to a halt.

In Bed with the Enemy is part of the Lonestar Country Club series. The thread here appears to be a mafia boss and his shipments of illegal guns. There is a good romance that starts and ends up happily ever after. What is missing and what is prompting my two-heart rating is the ending to the book. While the romance ends, the main plotline is just left hanging. The ending was so abrupt I felt like I had only read half the book and skipped some middle chapters.

Elise Campbell is an FBI agent with a background in accounting. She specializes in hunting the paper trail behind crimes of laundering or embezzlement. She is assigned a case of illegal gun sales and sent to Mission Creek, Texas, to see what she can find. She finds ATF agent and royal pain in the rear Cole Yardley. Cole has been working the case and resents the FBI sending an untried agent into a field mission - and a woman to boot.

Having met a few years before on another case, Cole and Elise have a history of sniping and not really liking the other. That is how they start off this encounter, only to discover that there is some physical attraction and sparks seem to fly every time they meet. How convenient that they have connecting rooms in a cozy little inn.

As law enforcement romances go, this one is fairly engaging. We find that behind Cole’s tough exterior and apparent chauvinistic tendencies are the gentlemanly manners his father taught him. He admires Elise for her commitment and her work, he just believes that he can protect her better than she can herself.

Elise is ready to prove herself. She knows she is smart and can handle herself in the boardroom and with numbers. She is not so sure her training will pull her out of any tough spot, as she has done little fieldwork and never been tested. She talks a good fight though and Cole admires her for that.

Once they admit their attraction, they hit the sack. Both decide independently they are in love, and eventually share that with the other. I did love the fact that once committed, they never backpedaled or lamented over the condition, as so often happens in these stories.

The story, however, moves along on the power of the investigation. It is interesting, with a few twists and lots of turns to keep you guessing how they will solve it. The local mafia boss, who is not a full-fledged member of the mafia family, has just taken over. The son of the old boss, Ricky Mercado, is trying to break from the family and stay clean. But everyone is a suspect, and Ricky’s attempt at being a good guy is questioned. Cole and Elise try to tackle the case from different angles and agree to work alone, without sharing information, including the fact that there is a hit order out on one of them for getting too close. Just when you think they will reveal all and catch the bad guy, the story switches to the romance and the happy ending. Period - Amen. - My reaction: what the heck happened?

In Bed with the Enemy is a well-written story right up to the last chapter. If you like this series and plan to read every book from start to finish, it will probably be better enjoyed. As a stand-alone book, it left me dissatisfied.

--Shirley Lyons

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