To the Limit by Virginia Kelly
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1302, $4.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-27372-X
****
Mary Beth Williams and her brother Mark grew up in a diplomatic family where they clearly tied for last in the priorities of their parents. It served to make them best friends as well as siblings.

Mary Beth is working as a librarian when she is contacted by the Primero de Mayo terrorist group and informed that Mark is their captive and will be executed if she does not personally deliver the ransom to them in the San Matean jungle within 10 days.

Mary Bethís prior life in diplomacy served her well as she is able to determine that Nicholas Romero is the best-qualified negotiator in that country with the required expertise to take her into the heartland.

The story opens as Mary Beth invites herself to a formal party Nickís mother is having in the capital city. Nickís mother is married but separated from General Vargas, who is one of the politicos in the small country vying for absolute and total control.

Nicholas wants nothing to do with the Primero de Mayo terrorist group. He has a history with them he does not intend to disclose and refuses Mary Bethís plea. Events transpire to bring them together with Nicholas finally and reluctantly agreeing to help her. Her brotherís association with Nicholasís deceased brother heightens his interest. The American Embassy is trying to hustle Mary Beth back to America with reports of Markís involvement in gun running.

Blind to everything but reaching her brother, Nicholas and Mary Beth leave to trek into the jungle headquarters of the Primero de Mayo. The authorís Peruvian lineage is never more apparent than in her clear descriptions of this setting, some place in South America.

Virginia Kelly has developed her principal characters well, and has endowed the secondary characters with enough to make them all a bit sinister, and the cynic would say that is directly on point for the power mongers of most countries.

Nicholas and Mary Beth thread their way through the entangled politicos, the jungle backcountry of this small nation of San Mateo, and through their own entangled relationship. Kelly subtly increases the levels of sexual tension and suspense as the book evolves to an unexpected resolution.

The plot is complex, and at times one can feel overwhelmed by the intricacies. Occasionally, the segues leave a disjointed feeling. These points are greatly outweighed by the complex plot line, the depth of characters, the crisp dialogue all contained within a memorable love story.

Kudos to Virginia Kelly who has written a memorable first book for Intimate Moments.

--Thea Davis


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