Mirror Image

Opposites Attract

 
More Than Gold by Shirley Hailstock
(Arabesque/BET, $5.99, PG-13), ISBN: 1-58314-120-0
***
Shirley Hailstockís More Than Gold captures the Olympic spirit and infuses it with the flavor of the presidential election campaign.

Morgan Kirkwood is a former Olympic gymnast who brought home the gold for America during the 1988 games in Seoul, South Korea. Between completing her floor exercises and working on the uneven bars, Morgan also managed to help the CIA release a political operative held in a Korean jail. She was only nineteen at the time.

When More Than Gold begins twelve years later, Morgan is living in anonymity in St. Louis. As the city prepares to host the Olympic games, a reporter unearths Morganís location, writes a story about her and inadvertently puts her life in danger. Convinced that someone is following her and trying to kill her and Morgan issues a coded call to her contact in Washington, D.C. for help. When Jack Temple shows up on her doorstep, Morgan is more than a little apprehensive. She suspects that whoever is after her would likely send someone she knows to kill her and is immediately suspicious of Jack.

Morgan and Jack have met before...in Seoul. However, she was unaware at the time that Jack was a CIA agent working undercover as a coach of the U.S. swim team. A powerful attraction existed between them. It is still strong more than a decade later. And the six-year age difference between them is less formidable. However, Morgan has learned through life in the streets of Washington, DC as a homeless teen and later, during her brief stint in covert operations, not to trust anyone. Despite Jackís attempts to protect her, Morgan has activated her defenses.

More Than Gold is a powerful romantic suspense story that begins with breathtaking action. Morgan is no femme fatale and she has devised an escape plan that would do McGyver proud. The first third of the book is filled with fast-paced action as Jack and Morgan renew their relationship within a run for their lives from unknown pursuers.

Shirley Hailstock develops the romance between Jack and Morgan credibly. Both have misgivings about the uncertain future of their lives and their love. Less credible is the development of the heroine, whose finely honed instincts gradually begin to diminish in proportion to her growing relationship with the hero. In addition, several scenes forced me to suspend belief and to second-guess Morganís actions.

More Than Gold contains several very strong plot twists, often lyrical prose, a secondary romance worth exploring and an interesting cast of supporting characters. Jacob Winston, head of the witness protection program in Hailstockís Whispers of Love, reprises his role in this novel.

If you enjoy romantic suspense and political intrigue More Than Gold is worth a look.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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