All I Want
For Christmas

Bad Boys on Board

Casey

Caught in the Act

Duets 23

Fantasy
Gabe

I Brake For Bad Boys

In Too Deep

Jamie

Jordan

Little Miss Innocent

Morgan

Sawyer

Say No to Joe?

Sex Appeal

Sizzle

Too Much Temptation

Treat Her Right

Wanton

When Bruce Met Cyn...

Wild

 
Jude’s Law by Lori Foster
(Zebra, $6.99, R) ISBN 0-8217-7802-1
**
Foster’s latest starts out with a pleasing fantasy that many readers should enjoy. A Hollywood heart throb, fallen from grace, seeks refuge in small town U.S.A and falls in lust with the girl next door. Unfortunately, the absurdity of the main plot, a doormat heroine and an ending that doesn’t end ruins everything.

Jude Jamison made a name for himself as the star of Supreme Battle Challenge (think Ultimate Fighting) and quickly parlayed his good looks and charm into an acting career. Then a young starlet is murdered, and Jude is acquitted in a sensational murder trial. With the paparazzi dogging his steps, Jude runs away to Stillbrook, Ohio, and quickly falls in lust with the local owner of an art gallery. Except the lusciously curvy May Price seems completely immune to his charms, and worse yet thinks his come-ons and innuendos are a joke!

May Price is hugely attracted to Jude but isn’t about to act on it. They are from totally different worlds, plus she has a lot of baggage. Then her loser brother, Tim, borrows money from the wrong person and promptly loses it gambling. When hired goons grab him they give him an option – the $50,000 debt will go away if he kills Jude.

This throws May and Jude together in the same house as the goons also threaten her. In between getting Tim’s debt taken care of and figuring out who wants Jude dead, May and Jude are spending a lot of time burning up the sheets.

While Foster has a pleasing writing style and knows her way around a sex scene, the rest of the plot strains at the seams of credibility. May is afraid to get involved with Jude because he’s a Big Hollywood Star and a major hunk. Never once does she pause over the fact that he was the defendant in a well-publicized murder trial! Why? Well he’s so hunky and he buys a lot of art from her, he just can’t be capable of murder. While the romance hero obviously has to be innocent, May’s blind faith in that fact is just a little too unreal. The American justice system has been known to be wrong.

May also is the worst kind of romance heroine – The Doormat. I kept waiting for Jude to write “welcome” on her forehead and toss her by the front door. She’s one of those self-sacrificing types who is constantly rescuing her petulant younger brother. Why? Because Mommy and Daddy expect it of her. They also expect her to come running to them for all of their slights. Mommy’s a boozer and Daddy likes to chase skirts. Why a grown woman pushing 30 wouldn’t just tell these losers to take a hike is anyone’s guess.

The mystery of who killed the starlet might not have been half bad if the tone of the story would have matched. One would think that a man who has someone out to kill him would be concerned about finding out who the bad guy is. Not Jude! No, he’s more concerned about getting May in bed and buying her a whole new wardrobe. Naturally May doesn’t know how to dress herself and is always hiding her fuller figure behind unflattering business suits. Frankly, I’d be more concerned about staying alive than what my bed partner chose to wear, but that’s just me.

However what ultimately sinks Jude’s Law from being an acceptable read is the ending. There isn’t one. Foster leaves a lot of loose ends – including the bad guy and some issues with May’s family. The whole thing screams sequel (likely involving May’s best friend Ashley), but series books should stand alone on their own. The reader who wants closure is essentially being manipulated into reading book two.

All in all this is one disappointing read. Foster writes fast, fun and frothy, and the pages flew by at a fast clip. Too bad the plot and the heroine had to get in the way.

--Wendy Crutcher


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