Dangerous Curves by Kristina Wright
(Silh. Int. Mom #917, $4.25, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-07917-6
****
Kristina Wright is one of four authors who is making her debut with Silhouette in March. Before selling her book to Silhouette, Ms. Wright tells readers that she won RWA's Golden Heart Award. From the strength of this story, a) it's obvious that her Golden Heart Award was well deserved, and b) she'll be a valued addition to the popular Silhouette lineup.

Dangerous Curves is that rare romantic suspense story with just the right balance of both. While the emphasis is on the romance, the suspense aspect is intriguing enough that I was never quite sure what would happen next. I read it on a Saturday and was able to convince my husband to run the weekly errands, which meant that I was able to kick back and savor the intelligent characters and the high-intensity plot.

Pulitzer-winning photographer Samantha Martin has definitely been at the wrong place at the wrong time. A photo that she has taken is so valuable to the villains that they've kidnapped her and have confined her to an asylum for the criminally insane. They've killed a federal agent and have doctored the evidence to make it appear that Sam is the murderer. She's hidden the photograph and hasn't yet told them where it is, which is the only reason she's still alive. As the story opens, Sam has escaped and is literally fleeing for her life.

Ex-cop Jake Cavanaugh rescues a woman on the side of the road in the middle of alligator territory in Florida. Not quite sure that he believes her tale, he decides to involve one of his law-enforcement friends. Sam and Jake are waiting for his friend at a remote diner when Jake sees his friend gunned down by two men outside the restaurant. It is then that Jake realizes that Sam has been telling the truth. Managing to escape, Jake soon learns how powerful the men are that want Sam and her photo. It seems that Jake's now wanted for the murder of his friend.

As they travel from through Florida to retrieve Sam's photo, they discover that the plot against both of them involves powerful, highly-placed men in the government. Even when they do find the photo and can exonerate themselves, who will believe them?

There's a tender secondary story that involves Sam and her father, a man she hasn't seen for twenty years. Dangerous Curves is an intricately woven story of corruption, with a scenario so plausible that I never felt that it was too fictitious. The only thing that didn't ring true was how easily the bad guys were able to find them time and again. Jake is an ex-cop and isn't leaving obvious clues, but each time Jake and Sam think they might be in the clear, in ride the bad guys.

As a rule I can take or leave romantic suspense and prefer to avoid the ones which are heavy on the suspense factor. However, Dangerous Curves kept my interest from the beginning. The leads are realistic, without too much emotional baggage to weigh them down, and as they're pulled deeper and deeper into the unfolding drama, I could feel their occasional despair. Knowing that your own government is involved makes the situation far from rosy.

Here's hoping that we'll get to read lots more from Kristina Wright. She's written a winner in Dangerous Curves. I predict that she's a budding force to be reckoned with on the romantic suspense scene.

--Linda Mowery


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