Kiss and Tell

Seducing Mr. Right

Hide and Seek by Cherry Adair
(Ballantine, $6.50, R) ISBN 0-449-000684-0
Here’s a question for all you wannabe romance heroines:

You’re a kindergarten teacher and the sole responsible member of your flaky, dysfunctional family, and in spite of all your warnings, your younger sister refused to end her relationship with a sleazy drug dealer and now she’s disappeared. What do you do?

a. Call the cops.
b. Hope you run into a SEAL with some extra time on his hands.
c. Bleach your hair, pick up some slutty clothes, act like a bimbo and get a job as a Las Vegas showgirl so you can attract the attention of the same sleaze, get flown off to his remote South American mountain hideaway, and search the jungle for your sister.

If you chose letter c, you’ll think the actions of the heroine in Hide and Seek make perfect sense. Personally I think this is one seriously TSTL (too stupid to live) heroine who shouldn’t be entrusted with educating the impressionable minds of innocent, unsuspecting five-year-olds.

The above scenario seems rife with all kinds of salacious possibilities, doesn’t it? After all, the bimbo’s got to expect she’ll be sleeping with the sleaze, enduring shame and humiliation while the bum cops a cheap grope. But, no. Turns out Ramon Montero is gay. He only wants the arm candy to put on a straight front. So Delanie Eastman, the judgment-challenged heroine, is off the hook for the down-and-dirty. All she has to do is loll around the swimming pool looking decorative.

Until Kyle Wright walks out of the jungle and says, “Well, well, if it isn’t Miss Eastman. I’d recognize those tits anywhere.” Kyle (a brother of the heroine in the author’s Kiss and Tell) is an MD who’s been working undercover with a government antiterrorist agency to bust Ramon. He’s in the jungle working as a researcher on some evil secret scientific terrorist plot Ramon has cooked up.

Delanie and Kyle are not strangers. She lost her virginity to him after she picked him up in a San Francisco hotel bar (get this, it’s San Francisco and all the men in the bar watch her avidly as she walks in), and they spent three wild days in bed together (unprotected sex with a stranger - maybe the bimbo act isn’t that much of a stretch) but haven’t seen each other since. Kyle recognizes the extreme danger Delanie is in and is determined to get her out of Ramon’s South American hideaway, but Delanie is equally determined she isn’t going until she finds little sis.

Ramon gives Delanie to his good buddy Kyle to provide Kyle with what Ramon doesn’t want. This gives Delanie and Kyle face time in the bedroom to squabble, smolder, and succumb.

Ramon, Delanie, and Kyle are not alone in the jungle. There are a bunch of Ramon’s cohorts who are without exception immoral degenerates. Ramon’s surgically enhanced, oversexed mother, the creepy Isabella, is also there. As well as piranha in a jungle pond and an anaconda in the swimming pool. Anyone with any sense would clear out ASAP, but Delanie refuses to leave. She keeps insisting, “I can take care of myself.” (Heroines who say that never can.)

As I said, definitely TSTL.

The plot of Hide and Seek is riddled with holes. The set-up is completely preposterous. Las Vegas is loaded with showgirls. It seems a real long-shot that Ramon would pick Delanie to be his new bimbo. And how come Ramon is clueless that Delanie and Lauren are sisters? You’d think a drug dealer and would-be terrorist would be a little less trusting and would do a background check on his bimbos. Kyle’s gotten mixed up in Ramon’s scheme because they were buds back in medical school. You’d expect Kyle’s sterling character would have come shining through back then so that Ramon wouldn’t believe he’d get involved in anything crooked. Furthermore, the secret scientific research plot is way past the point where Ramon ought to be busted by the feds.

Delanie seems to have no justification for believing her sister is still alive much less stashed somewhere in the jungle. Her technique for searching for sis is to go jogging in the jungle at night. There are well-lit jogging paths in the jungle? What’s she expecting to find? A sign reading, “Former Bimbos This Way”? Moreover, I think the Ramon-is-gay twist is an absolute cop-out. In this way Delanie can embark on her career as a gangster moll without ever having to put out. Like she’s a not really a slut since she’s only had one man. Oh, puh-leeeze. She didn’t know he was gay when she dreamed all this up. It’s the intent that counts. (She admits she would have, but Kyle has doubts.)

I liked the previous book, Kiss and Tell, very much. The heroine in that book, however, found herself in a life-threatening situation through no fault of her own. She didn’t dream up some stupid scheme to put herself in harm’s way.

The one aspect of this book that works is the sexual desire between Kyle and Delanie. This book deserves its R rating. These two go at it hot and heavy and often. Oh, Delanie says ‘no’ a lot, but she doesn’t mean it (why does she even bother?) - she’s helpless against the force of Kyle’s passion. There are, however, other romances with an R rating that also feature credible character development and a plausible plot.

I advise readers to let Hide and Seek remain hidden and not go seeking for it.

--Lesley Dunlap

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