In Hot Pursuit by Victoria Marquez
(Encanto, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-7860-1136-X
Isabel Garcia is digging a hole in her garden to plaint a bush when she uncovers a briefcase stuffed with bags of white powder. Here is the evidence the police have been looking for - that her late ex-husband was, indeed, part of a drug ring. Itís clear to Isabel that she needs to contact the police, particularly Lieutenant Linc Heller. Isabelís young daughter, Suzie, should not be haunted by the misdeeds of her father.

Linc has been following the drug ringís activity and has always believed that Frank Garcia was more involved that the police could prove. Lincís attraction to Isabel is firmly under wraps; however, then he observes her fending off the unwanted attentions of a date in a restaurant they both happen to be in, he canít help but intervene, much to Isabelís relief. Soon Isabel is fighting the urge to let Linc closer. Heís a cop, and the last thing she needs is a man in her life whose profession is dangerous. She doesnít want Suzie to become attached.

Linc is determined to show Isabel how good their relationship could be. He embarks on a plan to woo her and change her mind, which will not be an easy task. Isabel, for her part, is determined to keep Linc at armís length, no matter what lies she has to tell him and herself.

This interesting premise, which initially showed great promise, soon fizzled and In Hot Pursuit failed to work on several levels. First, the chronology didnít add up. According to the first chapter, Suzie is three and a half. Later, she's described as being almost five. But she attends school, her class goes on field trips, she talks and acts like an eight-year-old. Linc is, if not forty, darn close to it, and Isabel is twenty-four. I had a hard time believing heíd be so attracted to her on anything but a physical level. Her personality didnít have enough maturity to overcome that big of an age gap, no matter how hot she looked.

Isabelís behavior doesnít do anything to counter this impression. Her main objection to a romance with Linc is that his job is dangerous. When he reasonably points out that heís a lieutenant, he mostly handles paperwork, and his job is no more dangerous than a lot of professions, Isabel refuses to even consider it. Her mind is made up, and this tunnel vision passes for most of the conflict in the book. The climax is brought about by Isabel lying by omission, then wondering if Linc will ever forgive her. By then, I couldnít understand why heíd want to.

Linc is the best character in the book. Heís strong, decent, and determined to win over his lady. I didnít get the attraction, but I certainly appreciated his efforts. He needed a stronger (and more mature) heroine to balance him out.

Confusing chronology, an unimpressive heroine, and flat writing that relies on telling rather than showing make In Hot Pursuit no more than an average read. If you like cop heroes, Linc may appeal to you, but I canít recommend it.

--Cathy Sova

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