All Shook Up

Baby, Don't Go

Baby, I'm Yours

Be My Baby


Head Over Heels


Present Danger

Shadow Dance

Getting Lucky by Susan Andersen
(Avon, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-380-81918-X
A friend once told me she’d nearly fallen when she tripped over her husband who’d passed out on the bathroom floor after a night of hard drinking. And she didn’t seem much bothered about it. This is not my idea of romantic love. The reason this long-buried memory came to mind is that Getting Lucky left me with the same sense of uneasiness. Why would any right-thinking heroine want this guy?

Zachariah Taylor, Marine Master Sergeant, returns to his home in Laguna Beach to discover his sister Glynnis gone but her friend Lily Morrisette very much in residence. Lily has rented the spare room from Glynnis. Zach, who believes that everyone is scoundrel just waiting to sucker Glynnis out of her trust fund, demands Lily vacate immediately. Lily has a written and signed lease for the room so she refuses. Because she doesn’t work a regular nine-to-five shift and wears killer high-heels to add height to her short stature, Zach jumps to the conclusion that Lily is unemployed and living off his sister. In fact, Lily is a highly trained and well regarded corporate chef. Her ultimate goal is to open her own restaurant.

Initially Lily refuses to tell Zach where Glynnis has gone, but eventually she is forced to reveal that she has gone to Washington state to meet her fiance’s family. Convinced that another fortune-hunter is after Glynnis, Zach sets out in pursuit, and Lily decides that for Glynnis’s sake she ought to go along.

Zach has recently been training army troops in Colombia. One Colombian national, Miguel Escavez, believes that he has lost face in front of his fellow villagers and blames Zach. For revenge, he plans to seize Zach’s woman; upon seeing Zach and Lily together, he concludes she is his woman. He follows them.

To Zach’s surprise, David appears to be from a wealthy family, but more surprises are in store. David and Glynnis are not at his mother’s house: they have been kidnapped!

What’s best about Getting Lucky is one of Ms. Andersen’s strengths - the snappy dialogue.

“You want to know what Glynnis and I have in common, soldier boy?”

He raised an eyebrow.

“We both marvel at what absolute cretins some men can be,” she said, as she recited the complaints of every woman she’d ever known who’d been on the dating circuit for a while. “It seems they either want to change you, take you for a ride, or run your life. You oughtta be able to identify with that.” With a sharp little click, she closed the door in his face.

Another positive to Susan Andersen’s books is that the men mostly act and talk like real men. Anyone who wants a sensitive male hero needs to look elsewhere. Her male characters can be just as unreasonable and aggravating as the real thing.

Unfortunately, the story’s characterization is weak - the hero goes beyond unreasonable and aggravating to totally obnoxious, and the heroine falls into bed and into love far too quickly and for little or no reason other than a peppy time between the sheets. It undercuts the romance when the heroine seems to be willing to enter into what shows all the signs of being an abusive relationship.

In the past Ms. Andersen has written heroes who form a completely mistaken impression of the heroine, but they’ve had the judgment to come to their senses before they completely crossed the line. Zach is way, way over that line, and his treatment of Lily before he discovers the truth is downright offensive.

Like most - if not all - romance readers, I like alpha heroes, but there’s alpha and there’s alpha. Give me the alpha hero whose high testosterone level doesn’t need to compensate for his low I.Q. and lousy P’s and Q’s. There are some guys whose social skills consist of hanging out with his buds chugging down pitchers of beer, talking in monosyllables and grunts about sports, and scratching themselves in private places. Yeah, sometimes these guys tie the knot, but this kind of behavior doesn’t harbinger a happily ever after. I kept hoping Lily would shake Zach’s hand, say “It’s been real,” and walk out. Sadly, she keeps the lunk.

I am an admiring fan of Susan Andersen’s and have many of her titles on my keeper shelves , but I do not consider Getting Lucky one of her best - not even in the top half ... or top three-quarters. (Getting Lucky is a sequel to Head Over Heels but stands well on its own.) An indication of how underwhelmed I was by it is that usually when I open a Susan Andersen romance, I’m sucked in for the duration. I read three other books cover-to-cover over the time I was reading Getting Lucky. When a book fails the put-down-pick-up test so thoroughly, I cannot recommend it. Ms Andersen’s impressive backlist notwithstanding, I must advise readers to think twice with this one.

--Lesley Dunlap

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