Jacob’s Proposal

Just a Little Bit Married

Just a Little Bit Pregnant

Michael’s Temptation

Midnight Cinderella

Night of No Return

 
Expecting…and In Danger
by Eileen Wilks
(Silh. Desire #1472, $4.25, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-76472-3
****
Wilks entry into the Connelly’s series is a fast paced, romantic thriller that has a lot in it for a short Silhouette Desire book. Expecting…and In Danger will keep you glued to your seats and up late to finish it.

Rafe Connelly is a loner and computer geek who has chosen to stay away from the family business. He loves his parents and his many brothers and sisters, but he needs his space. His consulting firm serves as the family’s consultant. Four months ago, Rafe succumbed to the lust he felt for his father’s executive assistant and then got scared by his feelings for her. He conveniently left town on business without any confrontations with her.

Charlotte Masters has had a less than pleasant life and the last four months has been particularly harrowing. She grew up poor, with parents who migrated all over the country, and after dying in a car accident left her to raise her 13-year-old brother. At seventeen, she was barely able to raise herself. He got mixed up in the wrong crowd and is in prison. Seeking an escape, she lied on her resume to get hired as the Connelly’s assistant, only to find herself blackmailed by the mob to help them break into the Connelly’s computer system. Once she cooperated, they tried to kill her. Fearing for her life, she talked to the police and then skipped town to hide. Now she finds herself pregnant with Rafe’s child. Can it get any worse?

How about almost getting run over by a car? Luckily, Rafe finds her shortly thereafter and takes her home with him, primarily to protect her, but also to convince her to marry him. “Charlie”, as Rafe affectionately calls her, doesn’t go easily. Her heart is at stake, after all.

Now Rafe and Charlie race against time to try to determine the secret the mob is trying to uncover in the Connelly’s computer, while keeping Charlie safe and their libidos at bay. Their love story is alternately hot, silly, sexy, funny, poignant, frustrating and steamy. The mystery is conventional but engaging, with just enough twists to pull you in. It is connected to the other story’s in the series but enough background is given that having read them is not required.

Charlie is a fun heroine, with a slight hint of an inferiority complex, but with the strength a person possesses who has met challenges head on and made it through. Her quirk of being a neat freak and worrying about everything is endearing, as it happens when it seems normal to get anxious. For instance, when she is worried about how Rafe will react to her story, she starts cleaning his apartment. What woman can’t relate to that kind of nervous reaction?

Rafe is a strong manly hero, who also has some vulnerability. The scenes when he is working through his feelings with his dad follow a predictable pattern, but are delightful just the same. Wilks does a good job of maintaining the right tone and not overdoing the “cuteness”.

The love scenes are steamy while adhering to the tongue-in-cheek writing style. It is refreshing to read a story where the sex is combustible but the feelings of love are acknowledged, at least by the characters subconscious, fairly quickly. The conflict arises not from their own feelings, but rather the circumstances they are involved in and the uncertainty that the feelings will not last through the truth telling.

My main criticism is that many stories of this ilk throw the characters together in a less than natural situation so they are forced to deal with their feelings. This book falls into the same trap. The implausibility of the police allowing a major witness of a mob case to stay in the apartment of a computer geek with no police protection feels like a fantasy. Even a rich computer geek can’t operate this much like a police investigator. The only thing close to a police presence is a private investigator that Rafe hired to help find Charlie. As a reader, you have to accept this unlikely scenario to enjoy the rest of the story.

I did accept the set-up, along with two delightful main characters. Expecting…and In Danger is an unexpected pleasure.

--Shirley Lyons


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