Renegade Father

Saving Grace

The Valentine Two-Step

The Wrangler & the
Runaway Mom

The Interpreter by Raeanne Thayne
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1380, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-27450-5
Jane Withington has never really recovered from the death of her dashing international spy of a father during a mission to rescue her. She leads the staid and boring life of a British civil servant, working as the interpreter of several obscure Southeast Asian languages.

Then, at an international trade summit in Park City, Utah, she overhears four men discuss a planned terrorist attack on American soil. One of the men, the ostensibly Westernized foreign minister of Vandelusia (a fictive Southeast Asian country) sees and recognizes her. Wanting to keep his plans secret, he orders her kidnapped and killed. Jane escapes by jumping from the truck that is to take her to certain death. She lands, barely conscious, in the path of former Army Ranger and ex-secret agent Mason Keller as he is driving through the Uinta Mountain range to his family ranch.

Mason has recently quit work as an undercover agent in the Philippines after his native intelligence sources died in a punitive terrorist attack. Believing he is partly responsible for the deaths because he didn't do enough to make their request for protection taken seriously, he has adopted their two Tagalog-speaking children and plans on dedicating himself to their care. Because of this and because of his own past, he is suspicious of Jane Doe's (as she is now called) claims of amnesia. Against his better judgment, he is convinced to shelter her until either the authorities can identify her or she recovers her memory.

Mason vows not to let Jane get too close to his family until he knows more about her. But the children warm to the woman who speaks their language and who recognizes their loss. Instead of "subtly putting his interrogation skills on Jane," he opens up to her and succumbs to their mutual attraction.

Jane and Mason's relationship follows a fairly predictable pattern of growing closer only to have an unexpected wedge come between them. Not surprisingly given the title and the heroine's profession, this wedge takes the form of misunderstanding and poor communication. Jane barely adjusts to her new life when a radio broadcast spurs the return of her memory. She does not reveal her newly-recovered identity to Mason. Nor does she share the information she has on the planned attacks.

Her reasons for holding back are not entirely convincing: she knows that two FBI agents are on the Vandelusian terrorists' payroll and fears Mason's FBI contact might be one of them. But she also realizes he was involved in the daring rescue during which she lost her father and that she loves him. I would have thought this knowledge would count for something, but apparently it does not.

As might be expected, Jane's failure to communicate ultimately turns against her when Mason discovers who she really is and that she is suspected of working with the terrorists and not against them. It takes another discovery and more action scenes before the misunderstanding between them is completely cleared.

Despite somewhat predictable plotting and some unconvincing turn of events, The Interpreter is an agreeable read about people who grow and change as a result of the events that bring them together. Mason's guilty and suspicious nature softens as he opens up to love. Jane, who has placed herself in an emotional lockdown ever since her father's death, allows feelings to return. She may not be the courageous charmer her father was, but she does have hidden depths and discovers she can live up to her name and heritage.

--Mary Benn

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