One of These Nights The Price of Innocence

Stranger by Her Side

His Last Best Hope
by Susan Sizemore
(Silh. Int. Mom. # 976, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-07976-1
Hope Harrison is engaged until her fiancé tells her she is staid, dull and, oh yes, he is also dating someone else. To assuage her wounded pride she persuades her aunt and uncle to take her on an ocean cruise in their yacht. When they stray into dangerous shipping lanes, a pirate known as Santiago boards and everyone is killed but Hope. While counting her remaining life out in minutes, the vessel is boarded again by a bigger and badder pirate.

At least it seems that way since the original killers know the intruder and his gang and are quick to flee, leaving the vessel to him. The intruder, whose nickname is Tiger, quickly stows Hope away in a locked stateroom. Unbeknownst to all, Tiger is actually a Navy lieutenant working undercover to trace stolen military weapons. After a long assignment building his identity, he is closing in on a man named Cardenas who he believes to be the mastermind of area crime.

The following day they arrive at Isla Sebastian, the home of Cardenas and other criminals. Tiger has antagonized the head of one of the gangs; and Santiago, who heads a local crime ring, is now angry with him as well. So he must dodge the thugs while he is there.

Tiger’s first chore, before he takes the necessary steps to bring down the criminals, is to take Hope to a priest on the island who will keep her safe. They criss-cross the island looking for the priest before they finally discover he has left the island.

Then Cardenas sends an emissary to make certain that Tiger joins him at his home for a lengthy house party. Discovering Hope, they insist that she accompany him. If you have read more than a dozen romantic suspense novels, I daresay, you the reader, could script the rest.

It would be difficult to create a character more self-absorbed than Hope. Just when she completes one obsessive thought about herself, and you think relief is in sight, she starts in again. More maddening is that her actions are not always consistent with her thoughts. Regrettably, I don’t think it was the author’s intent to make such an unsympathetic heroine.

Tiger, on the other hand, is a stereotypical US military undercover hero -- the kind who is long on machismo and finally succumbs to the girl next door he always seems to rescue. He offers no surprises, and not much depth, but he does not offend like his counterpart Hope.

Although occasionally full of clichés and cute plays on words, readers who are new to the Intimate Moments series may enjoy His Last Best Hope.

--Thea Davis

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