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The Harder They Fall

 
Hiding Out at the Circle C
by Jill Shalvis
(Silh. Int. Mom. #887, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-07887-0
***
To paraphrase an American icon: "What we have here… is a failure to convince." Well, for me, anyway. But if you can handle Jill Shalvis' latest Intimate Moments rather far-fetched plot premise, then you will probably enjoy Hiding Out at the Circle C.

Haley Whitfield received her doctorate degree in geology in her mid-teens. About a decade later, she is part of a team in South America which monitors earthquake and volcanic activity in the Pacific Ocean. One morning her office is bombed and she finds two team members murdered. Haley takes the first plane out, which happens to be headed for Los Angeles.

On reflection, Haley realizes she was responsible for a massive earthquake which killed thousands. It seems that she developed an undersea computerized system that helped anticipate volcanic and earthquake activity. Somehow, an evil genius has twisted this computer program in such a way that it can cause earthquakes and volcanoes. He now plans to open his own "seismic store" selling this new weapon to foreign countries. Fortunately, the author used only four pages to explain this to the reader.

Fortune intervenes and Haley meets Nellie Reeves in the airport. Nellie is the very pregnant spouse of Jason Reeves who works on his brother Cameron's large and remote ranch in Colorado. "The Circle C" has been looking for a cook and housekeeper for a long time, but the distance from town has turned back even the hardiest potential employee.

Haley has no cash, and she fears credit card usage will reveal her location. With no friends and no real place to go, she tags along with Nellie to Colorado Springs in the hope of securing the job.

Happily, Cameron hires her, knowing that she is on the run, and the book takes a marked turn for the better. Haley has little if any housekeeping experience and can't cook, but she can read recipe books. The remote location appeals to her as a temporary safe haven.

Although Haley keeps receiving cellular phone threats as the murderers persist in their search for her, this evolves into a book about how a highly gifted woman learns the meaning of love, trust and friendship. (Haley did seem far too humble and normal for a child prodigy, though.) The interaction among the Reeves and Haley is fun against the backdrop of Cameron and Haley falling in love.

So, if the idea a highly gifted heroine being shadowed by the minions of a mysterious super-villain who has subverted a computer program to harness earthquakes for mayhem and profit makes perfect sense to you, you may find Hiding Out at the Circle C an enjoyable read.

Thea Davis

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