Duets 27

Send Me No Flowers

Dangerously Irresistible by Kristin Gabriel
(Harl. Tempt. #834, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-25934-4
Itís difficult to dislike a heroine who gets her man by putting him in pink handcuffs and chaining him to the bed for the night. Maddie Griffin is out to show her family that she can be as big an asset to her familyís bail-enforcement business as any of her brothers. That isnít something any of the macho men in her family want to hear.

So when Maddie sees a photo of the ďKissing BanditĒ in a magazine for Texas men who are looking for wives, she knows what to do. Here is a man who is used to bilking unsuspecting women out of their savings by pretending to marry them. Sheíll show her family she can do the job and do all women a service as well when she gets this guy.

Tanner Blackburn is about to be the best man at a wedding for his cousin and his bride-to-be, the woman Tanner used to date. Tannerís feeling rather lonely and rejected, so when this lovely young woman flirts with him in a bar and then invites him to her room, he knows what he wants to do. Being handcuffed to a bed wasnít in his plans, particularly when he realizes she intends to drag him off to Chicago because she thinks heís some con artist who jumped bail.

This story had potential but the middle soon bogged down. Maddie has a story for every occasion but I began to find myself straining against the improbabilities. For example, how many towns are isolated to the extent that they just donít have Japanese car parts? A fax machine? A rental car somewhere nearby? Someone who could drive them to a bus station or place that did have rental cars? And, of course, Maddie has to have a bad sense of direction to get them to a place where no one would ever think to find them.

All this does get the hero and heroine to spend time together. Maddie gradually finds it more and more difficult to believe this man is a liar and thief. Tanner is annoyed she wonít trust him since he is a staid real-estate attorney who has been raising his little sister for years. (Of course some folks might find someone who is a lawyer would fit that liar and thief description anyhow. But letís not go there!)

When Maddie finally does realize he isnít the Kissing Bandit at all, Tanner throws in a new complication by not trusting her to go out and get the real bad guy. Maddie decides heís just another man who doesnít trust her and Tanner has to change her mind.

I liked the characters and their motivations. I enjoyed the ending where Maddie gets what sheís strived for and realizes that wasnít really all she wanted. The humor sometimes seemed a bit more forced than funny, though it had its moments. At some point, it became difficult to suspend disbelief in the plot. Overall Dangerously Irresistible was a mixed bag that garnered a three heart rating.

--Irene Williams

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