Lone Rider by Lauren Bach
(Warner, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-446-61114-X
Iíve heard so many positive things about this book I could hardly wait to read it. Particularly because itís been touted as the perfect blend of romance and suspense. Since romantic suspense is my personal favorite, I was anxious to see if all the hype was accurate. After closing the cover, I have to agree. Lone Rider is a perfect blend of romance and suspense.

At the start of the book, heiress Tess Marsh is tooling down a deserted highway in northeast Montana, daydreaming about a jewelry design she wants to produce for her company, when her BMW runs out of gas. I have to admit, this is page two and I got a bit worried here. I canít imagine driving alone in the middle of nowhere, in a part of the country Iíd never visited (at night no less) and not notice a flashing gas light. Fortunately, Tess gets it together for the rest of the book.

It isnít long before a leather clad biker rumbles along in his Harley. Dallas Haynes is a yummy 6' 2", in tight jeans, with a long, dark ponytail and rather dangerous looking. He reluctantly offers to help Tess, until a motley group of bikers approach. Suddenly, Dallas transforms into a frightening kidnapper, who forces Tess to ride with him to his gangís hideout.

Even though Dallas has abducted her, Tess feels substantially safer with him than any of his co-horts. Particularly one named Snake. Itís a mixed blessing when Dallas declares Tess as his own and refuses to share her with anyone. A situation that Snake has every intention of changing.

For Dallas, this is a nightmare scenario. Heís worked for over two years to successfully infiltrate this gang. The presence of an innocent civilian is a complication he doesnít need. The only way he can figure to keep her safe, is to keep her chained to his bed. His growing feelings for her will have to be ignored.

The author does a outstanding job building the level of suspense. Thereís a lot more to the plot than Iíve summarized, but Iíll leave it for you to enjoy. I will say there are two scenes where Tess is locked in a kitchen cupboard that are absolutely chilling. I read this book nearly two weeks ago and itís still clear in my mind. Not something I can say about many books I read.

While Dallas is about as perfect a hero as I could imagine, Tess has an annoying habit of dissolving into tears in nearly every scene. While she goes through hell throughout much of the book and Iíll admit I wouldnít hold up as well as she does, it became a bit tiresome when she turned the waterworks on once again. Her breakdowns would be a lot more powerful had they been used sparingly.

While the Stockholm Syndrome is mentioned in the book, itís clear to the reader that thereís much more to their relationship than kidnapper and victim.

Lone Rider is a rare equal balance of romance and suspense thatís a treat to recommend. Author Lauren Bachís next book canít come soon enough.

--Karen Lynch

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