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No Surrender by Lindsay Longford
(Silh. Int. Mom # 947, $4.25, PG) 0-373-07947-8
**
The stand off between Kate March and Jed Stone occurs in a small town in Florida where mutual stubbornness sets the stage for No Surrender. Throw in a stalker with no apparent motive trying to kill Kate and this novel is almost totally defined.

Three years earlier, strong silent Jed Stone was so crazy about Kate March that he feared he was going to lose her if he didnít propose. He did, she turned him down flat, and then walked out of his life. He retired from his life of performing odd jobs for employers who hid behind agencies identified by initials and opened a rather rough bar in small town Florida. He let the word out quickly that he would hire ex-cons, and he is surrounded by a loyal few who are starting life over.

One night, in walks Kate. She has come to him for help because he is the only person she knows for certain is not trying to kill her. After pages and pages of sarcastic exchange, she realizes he has no intention of ever helping her again and she disappears into the night.

Chewed out by Sparks, the barkeeper and cook, Jed rethinks his aloof rejection of Kate, and agrees to be her bodyguard -- but of course, Kate does not realize this extends to his being a roommate as well.

He learns more about her fears. She hired a detective because she thought someone was trying to kill her. Both the detective and her fiancť, Frank, were murdered, and Kate is not only scared but also burdened by guilt.

However, she neglects to tell Jed that she is pregnant with Frankís child. That omission is by design since she had refused to have Jedís children. She believes that he might not help her if he knew. Jed is unhappily aware that he is still in love with her.

This is one of those novels where the reader feels the external threat is there only to get a couple back together again. Worse, the misunderstanding between them was one that could have been avoided with a few simple questions and answers. The chemistry needed in a love story is here but it is fueled by guilt on Kateís part, and frustration on Jedís. The stalker, when revealed, is predictable but almost unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

This is a common plot line, with an unusually large amount of sarcastic dialogue. Instead of worrying about the stalker, I spent my time wondering how long it would be before I found out what their big misunderstanding actually had been and how Jed would react when he found out she was pregnant. The fact that both are so predictable does nothing to make No Surrender very memorable.

--Thea Davis


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