Mary's Child

 
A Drive-by Wedding
by Therese Ramin
(Silh. Int. Mom. #981, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-07981-8
****
For most of the time I was reading Therese Raminís new SIM, I was convinced that this was a slam dunk four heart read. Then, I got to the finale of the story and felt that the conclusion didnít live up to the rest. But, even taking this disappointment into consideration, I decided that 200+ pages of page turning excitement and one of the most attractive heroines Iíve come across in a while merited a recommendation, if a slightly qualified one.

Allyn Meyers has just finished her doctoral studies in marine biology and is driving to Kentucky for a family reunion. As she passes through a somewhat run down part of Baltimore, she espies a most attractive jogger and feels an immediate frission of attraction. A glimpse of the joggerís face in her rear view mirror confirms her suspicion that this is one handsome dude! Imagine her shock when said jogger opens the passenger side of her door when she stops at a red light, tosses a duffel bag into the back seat, and holds a gun on her. Thus do Ally and Jeth Devoie meet.

Allyn behaves with cool good sense when faced with this unexpected danger. When she realizes that the duffel bag contains a child, she finds a way to turn the tables on her kidnapper. This forces Jeth to explain himself pronto.

It turns out that Jeth is an undercover policeman from Tucson who has been placed in deep cover in Baltimore to unearth a drug ring. The child, Sasha, is the son of a Russian Mafioso who has been kidnapped by his Colombian rivals. Jeth, unwilling to stand by and see a child mistreated and unable to get support from his superiors, decided to abscond with the boy and head back to his home reservation where the baddies canít get at them. But he needs wheels and he wants a female so that the three can pose as a family on he trip west. What he gets is a sharp woman who -- after seeing his identification and discovering how badly Sasha has been treated -- agrees to go along with his scheme. But not without Allynís playing an active role in this caper.

Perhaps Allyn is so willing to go along with Jeth because her mother met and married her stepfather in similar circumstances. (Obviously this happened in a previous Ramin book, but Iím not sure which.) Having an ex-FBI man in the family makes Allyn pretty savvy when it comes to the dangers of undercover operations and the murky morality that often prevails.

So Allyn and Jeth head off west with the villains in pursuit. As they face danger together, the attraction between the two heats up. After all, masquerading as husband and wife creates an enforced intimacy. Jeth, with his own tragedy in his past, resists getting involved with a ďcivilian.Ē Allyn, who has steadfastly resisted male wiles in pursuit of her career, finds Jeth pretty irresistible. But there isnít much demand for marine biologists in Arizona.

The romance is clearly the best part of A Drive-by Wedding. Allynís original attraction to Jeth may have been purely physical, but she soon discovers what an admirable fellow he is. As I indicated above, Allyn is one smart lady, and I liked the fact that it is her sharpness that makes Jeth fall for her. Even though their relationship moves fairly quickly to intimacy, as is often the case in short romances, Allyn and Jeth know each other pretty well when sexual tension turns to sexual reality.

As I said, I enjoyed A Drive-by Wedding without reservations until about the last twenty pages of the book. Then, I suppose, the unlikelihood of the plot became obvious as Ramin tried to tie up all the threads. Still, readers who enjoy romantic suspense and who like lots of excitement in their stories, should enjoy Allynís and Jethís slightly improbable journey to their happily ever after.

--Jean Mason


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