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Private Lies

 
Into the Night by Robyn Amos
(Arabesque, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN: 0-7860-0559-9
****
Cornelia "Coco" Vanderbilt would do almost anything to prove that her brother's not guilty of attempted murder. She knows her ex-boyfriend, photographer Adrian Thorpe, knows more than he's telling. She's been unable to reach him at home so she's decided to follow him on his cross-country book tour to get some answers. "Jax" Jaxson is hired to accompany Adrian on the tour. His job is to keep reporters and Coco away.

She's a trained actress who resorts to tricks, disguises and a strange assortment of automobiles to take her show on the road. When the irresistible force (Coco) meets the immovable object (Jax), the fun begins. For all his knowledge of security defenses and evasive tactics, poor Jax never knew what hit him.

You see, Coco is from Mars and Jax is from Venus.

She is the indulged daughter of a wealthy New York family and he's a scrappy Brit who has always earned his money by the sweat of his brow. She is a diminutive free spirit and he is a massive brooding guy who plays his cards close to his chest. They don't even speak the same language.

Jax: "It's going to be an early start, so you might want to bet on to bed early."
Coco: "I'm tired, anyway."
Jax: "Good, then. Do you need me to knock you up in the morning?"
Coco: "What did you say?
Jax: "There's no alarm in that bedroom. Do you need me to wake you up? What? What have I said now?"
Coco: "According to American slang you just offered to get me pregnant when the sun rises."

Coco has insinuated herself into Jax's life. She keeps chipping away at his resolve like an artist working on massive granite sculpture to get to the man inside a man even Jax has forgotten existed.

We like Coco. She's flaky, but not flighty. She knows exactly what she wants. Jax will be fine as soon as he learns how to lighten up a bit. We care about the main characters. We root for them and their relationship to survive all the obstacles thrown in their path.

Robyn Amos is probably the most prolific writer on my "Emerging Authors" list. Her first novel, Promise Me, was published last October. Her novella, "After Midnight," in Arabesque's 1998 Valentine's anthology was a very good story that held its own with those by seasoned authors Gwynne Forster and Shirley Hailstock. The following month, Private Lies was released. Into the Night is her third novel and two more releases are planned for the early part of next year.

Into the Night is an entertaining road story. It took a lot for Robyn Amos to pull this one off. I think Amos is a lot like her heroine: feisty, determined, talented. The plot is somewhat predictable and early on we know who the bad guys are.

But Amos' concise writing and sharp characterization save the day. The prologue to this novel is sheer poetry. It sucks the reader in, creates an illusion and then presents the truth. While the novel doesn't sustain that level of writing throughout, Amos' craftsmanship continues to improve with each book.

Despite its flaws, I liked Into the Night because of its characters. I'm looking forward to her next book which includes a major secondary character from this story.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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