Seducing Tony by Jona Jeffreys
(Zebra Bouquet #25, $3.99, R) ISBN 0-8217-6439-X
Seducing Tony can’t decide what it wants to be. It starts out as a revenge tale, morphs into a pseudo-suspense linked by the most ludicrous of coincidences, and along the way drowns itself in a sea of overdone New York hipness. Whatever it is, it didn’t work for me.

Eden Redford, hotshot website designer, takes a leave from her San Francisco job and heads to New York to bring down Tony Ross. Tony is a journalist who has been stripped of a Pulitzer Prize after being accused of faking a story about the mistress of a Mafia kingpin. His former magazine is the Manhattan Star, for which Eden’s father was an editor. The day Mike Redford fired Tony Ross, he had a heart attack and died, and Eden believes Tony is to blame. Her plan? Seduce him and abandon him. Break his heart like he broke her father’s.

Seduced and abandoned? Oh, boy. Faster than you can say “plot cliché,” Eden has managed to bump into Tony at one of his favorite hangouts. Of course, she looks like a model. Of course, he’s all over her. She introduces herself as “Dyan Collins,” whets his appetite, and then leaves, knowing she’ll bump into him again.

Eden just happens to have a friend in New York, Chloe, with whom she can stay. Chloe is the kind of character that one would like to instantly drown. Rich, spoiled, whiny, more than a little sluttish, it says little for Eden’s taste in friends that this is the best she can come up with. Chloe is passing the time clubbing at night and working as a nanny during the day. Guess whom the mother of her little charge turns out to be? Can you say “Mob Mistress?” And then there’s the soap opera actor that Eden spies being mobbed on the street, who turns out to be her long-lost brother. And Eden’s estranged mother turns up, too, and wouldn’t you know it, she’s also linked to the Mafia kingpin (just in time to save the day).

Tony and Eden heat up, and the sex is pretty graphic for a category novel. It’s also somewhat of a contradiction. Eden supposedly has had only two boyfriends in her life but she sure hits her knees pretty fast (and in a stairwell, too) when the urge overtakes her and she spies the bulge in Tony’s jeans. Even as she’s having hot and heavy sex, she’s reproving herself for deceiving him. “Maybe I should tell him… I’m going to tell him… maybe I’ll tell him tomorrow.”

Surprisingly enough, Tony turns out to be a fairly sympathetic character. He’s pretty decent, falls hard for Eden/Dyan, and truly wants to be with her. You get the feeling he deserves a whole lot better.

The whole thing isn’t helped by the desperately hip tone of the book, either. Clubbing twentysomethings make for boring reading after the second night out.

Seducing Tony didn’t seduce me at all, and it’s too bad, because the Bouquet line has turned out some very fine romances in the short time since its launch. My recommendation is to give this one a wide berth.

--Cathy Sova

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