Bandera's Bride

Just One Look

The Marriage Knot

Storming Paradise

Bluer than Velvet by Mary McBride
(Silh. Int.Mom. #1031, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-27101-8
Private Investigator Sam Zachary receives a strange request. Instead of finding someone, his new client wants him to hide someone . . . her. Considering that she's sporting a black eye, Sam knows she needs help.

Laura McNeal has been the unwilling recipient of her landlord's son's affection. She's just been nice to the guy, but he wants more than she's willing to give. The situation turns ugly when she tells the son that she's not interested. After he hits her, she knows she's got to hide from him. If he were just an ordinary guy then hiding might not be necessary, but Laura suspects that the family has criminal connections.

Sam agrees to take Laura's case but has mixed reactions about her. His gentlemanly side wants to help, yet he's dismayed that he's attracted to her. Sam, whose one love died more than two years ago, refuses to be unfaithful to Jenny's memory. Yet Laura is the first woman he's been interested in since his fiancée's death. A combination of guilt and lust control his reactions.

Laura discovers that Sam is darn near-perfect for her. She loves vintage clothing and when she sees Sam's house, she's awed with all the nostalgic collectibles. To Sam, it's just home.

Bluer Than Velvet certainly has its good points. It's an enjoyable, fast read, one that for the most part kept me entertained. What became a stumbling block for me was Sam's reluctance to accept that his life hadn't ended with his fiancée's death. It's as though he's climbed into the grave with Jenny. I know that guilt is a powerful motivator, but Sam's reluctance just bogged down my interest in him. And while I rarely give the names of secondary characters, Jenny is so integral to Sam's attitude that she plays an important part.

Another secondary character, this one giving off mixed signals, is Jenny's younger sister. At once jealous of Laura, the sister engenders emotions that range from irritation to fear to pity.The wrap-up feels a bit rushed, with all of the problems being tied into that neat bow. However, I really think that if Sam hadn't still been obsessed with Jenny to the point of guilt running his life, then it would have been easy to recommend Bluer Than Velvet.

If heroes who languish over lost loves appeal to you, then you're going to enjoy Bluer Than Velvet. If they aren't your cup of tea, then I'd look elsewhere.

--Linda Mowery

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