The Misconception

One Hot Chance

Snoops in the City
by Darlene Gardner
(LoveSpell, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-505-52586-0
In the first three chapters of Snoops in the City, I made notes to myself that were less than complimentary. The heroine seems ditzy and her being a private eye is beyond the pale, to note just a few. Luckily for me, I kept reading and I am recommending you do too. The tale develops into a warm and while still implausible, generally fun romantic comedy, with two romances for your pleasure.

The main plot involves Tori Whitley, a down-on-her-luck lady who just can’t find her niche in life. She has moved to Seahaven, Florida, on the east coast, away from her very successful family who lives on the west coast of Florida. While her brother is an architect and her sister a pediatrician, she is an ex-bartender, ex-everything, part-time make-up consultant at a local department store on weekends. About to be evicted, she jumps at the chance offered by her black sheep cousin Eddie to help him in his private investigation business to get some information on Grady Palmer, a local contractor for a mysterious client, Ms. M.

Grady is a contractor, who just happens to be involved in some apparent shady dealings at City Hall. However, he is working undercover for the FBI to try to expose graft and corruption from the mayor on down. Up until this point, Tori acts silly, often doing things that a teenager would do. She makes decisions based on the outcome of her magic eight ball, following advice like “signs point to groovy”. Tori, who is not very good at this gig, is obviously following Grady around. Afraid she may be working for the crooks, he confronts her. Then the fun begins.

As their relationship develops, their adult hormones kick in. While libido is a part, so is the intelligence. Grady and Tori develop into a sensible fun couple, who still have secrets that ultimately create complications, but at least they are not acting like teens anymore. The secondary romance develops, too. Lorelei Palmer is Grady’s 21-year-old sister. Grady warns her off the county clerk, fearful he may be a crook too. Of course, this points Lorelei straight at Wade Morrison.

Wade is a divorced father of three-year old twins and is a nerd. He has custody of his children because his ex was a party girl who couldn’t put her children before her own interests. Wade takes one look at Lorelei and assumes she is the same. She is eccentric in her dress, she flirts and she talks about shopping and having fun. While she has a job as Grady’s receptionist, she doesn’t like to take it too seriously. But Lorelei decides to prove Wade wrong. She wants to show him she can be responsible. Their match is engaging and it is a delightful story. Lorelei learns to grow up and Wade learns he can be responsible and have fun too.

The entire undercover plot line is a little loose and capers are madcap and sometimes satirical. The ending seems a little too pat and rushed, yet, the writing style is true to this genre. The sexual tensions for both couples are warm, with innuendo and hot kisses more than explicit scenes. This keeps the mood light and the tone fun-natured.

Snoops in the City is a romance full of fun. It is light, warmhearted and adds some surprising twists. Don’t get too disappointed in the start and you should enjoy the story as it develops.

--Shirley Lyons

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