Hide and Seek

Kiss and Tell

Seducing Mr. Right

 
In Too Deep by Cherry Adair
(Ballantine, $6.99, R) ISBN 0-8041-2001-3
***
In Too Deep features a heroine who, though she is smart-mouthed and physically pretty tough, nevertheless comes across as a bimbo, at least initially. Pairing her with a testosterone-charged ex-Navy SEAL with revenge on his mind makes for a fairly steamy romance, however.

Tally Cruise is on her way to Paradise Island, where she hopes she’ll be able to meet up with her nearly-unknown father, Trevor Church. She’s aboard the Serendipity with Arnaud Bouchard, an acquaintance of Trevor’s. Tally is unaware that she’s being spied upon by one Michael Wright, an ex-SEAL who blames Tally’s father for the death of his partner and the end of his own Navy career. Michael was left with one bad eye and an overwhelming fear of the water, a place where he used to feel absolutely at home.

Michael, studying Tally through binoculars, notes that she has a great ass and mentally nicknames her Tally Ho, which is a clue to how he’ll treat her for part of the book. When the Serendipity explodes, pitching Tally into the water, Michael picks her up. He decides that Tally might lead him to Trevor Church, so it would be a good idea to hang onto her, even seduce her, which he does by page 41. Tally, offering the first glimmers of bimboism, has just been blown off a boat. Apparently two men have died. But her biggest disappointment is that Michael doesn’t seem to notice her wet t-shirt and how it’s clinging to her breasts.

Michael takes Tally to an island boardinghouse and installs her there under the care of and elderly woman named Auntie, who runs the place. An island girl named Leila has her eye on Michael, but he’s not, er, rising to the bait, so she turns her jealousy on Tally. Tally and Michael, meanwhile, can’t get the fabulous sex they had out of their minds. Things continue to heat up between them, culminating in an interlude with a pearl necklace that will have readers viewing their jewelry collections in a whole new light.

The bad guys are soon after Tally, and Michael is faced with a dilemma. Does he want to dangle Tally for bait, or try to keep her safe?

My initial reaction to Tally and Michael wasn’t positive. She came across as a nitwit; the search for her father was knocked out her mind by a good-looking guy with muscles. Daddy who? As for Michael, he’s coldly calculating, a real use-em-and-leave-em bastard, and it makes the first half of the book difficult to accept. And the drama is pounded into readers with all the finesse of a jackhammer, as in this passage from the first page:

But he wasn’t alive. Lieutenant Michael Wright had died on Paradise Island last October. Now the living ghost of the man occupying his shell was ready to write the last chapter and close the book on Church once and for all.

Even though I didn’t like these two at first, their romance was surprisingly believable. Michael fixates on the sex and how he’s using Tally to get to Church, justifying his actions and shrugging her off. When his feelings begin to change, his conflict seems real, perhaps because it’s such a stark contrast to his previous calculation. As for Tally, she’s embarrassed by the initial hot sex they share and tries to prevent a relapse, but is unable to resist, etc.

There’s plenty of fast-paced, wisecracking dialogue here, and Tally shows she’s unafraid to try and take care of herself physically, which I appreciated. She’s also not particularly intimidated by Michael’s glowering and machoism, which was a nice touch. As a foil for his broodiness, she fit the bill to a T.

The last fourth of the book shifts to suspense as the villains are revealed and Michael and Tally must join forces to survive. Thankfully, the author avoids the tired scenario of the heroine pitching a major tantrum when she finds out the hero used her for revenge. Here it’s dealt with in a much more adult manner.

In Too Deep offers a hot romance, a fairly entertaining suspense, and two lead characters who hit their stride after a rocky start. All in all, it’s a decent way to spend your reading time.

--Cathy Sova


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