A Drive-By Wedding

Mary's Child

Her Guardian Agent by Terese Ramin
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1093, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN# 0-373-27163-8
Therese Ramin has focused some of her prior books on the Brannigan sisters and, by extension, has now included the Levoie family first introduced in A Drive-By Wedding (SIM #981). To easily understand the plot line of Her Guardian Agent, a reader will have an easier time of it if they read A Drive-By Wedding first.

Guy Levoie is a Havasupai tracker and all his brothers are involved with various law enforcement agencies. Her Guardian Agent opens as yet another law enforcement type joins them. FBI Special Agent in Charge Hazel Youvella has arrived to take charge of the search for a missing child on the reservation, because the child has been reclassified as a kidnap victim. Hazel is part Hopi and all attitude. Hazel channels repressed grief into her work, clawing her way up the promotion ladder, and doing it in a way that distances hersef from men - and from the appearance of being human.

Guy is unique among heroes. Unabashedly he admits to falling in love easily and completely, only moving on when the girl leaves him. At their initial meeting, he knows that Hazel is next in his love-life and ingenuously starts his seduction plan. Hazel has been assigned to the case because of external pressure on her agency, and too soon she discovers why.

The kidnapped child is Emma Poley, the 11 year-old adopted daughter of the tribal leader. Her grandparents are present at the initial interview and it is here that Hazel discovers the missing child is her own daughter that she believed had died within hours of her birth. Hazelís parents and grandparents had arranged the adoption without her knowledge and consent. Hazel is reeling from this when Guy discovers the ransom is an exchange of children, his brotherís adopted child Sasha (see SIM #981) for Emma.

Some of the villains from the earlier book reappear in this story. Guy heads out into the desert, accompanied by Hazel, to track Emma. Time lines are sketchy and scenes shift rapidly when the suspense side of the story is being advanced. However, when the love story is in focus, the pacing slows down.

Ramin has created diverse, credible characters that evoke sympathy. Her dialogue is strong, often poignant and always in the voice of her characters who evolve as each page turns. However, there is an abrupt feeling of being disconnected when she shifts to and from the love story that interrupts the flow of the read. And it happens over and over creating a choppy novel that does not stand well on its own.

While the plot is a very logical extension of A Drive-By Wedding, the execution is not. Too quickly told and underdeveloped, it reads like a love story heaped on a fragile frame.

--Thea Davis

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