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Whole Lotta Trouble by Stephanie Bond
(Avon, $6.99, PG) ISBN 0-06-056542-X
This is a chick lit story all the way, and as such is entertaining and fun. As a romance tale, it is a little slow. Whole Lotta Trouble involves chases, murders, mistaken identities and secret lives. There are some twists and turns that make it enjoyable but some of the predicaments seem a little far-fetched.

This is a story of the publishing industry. Three women (although one is really not highlighted well) who knew each other as interns have now gone their ways to different publishing houses. They are reunited due to their unhappiness with a publishing agent, who has done them wrong. Their attempt at revenge leads to murder and they are caught up in a set of circumstances that lead them all into territory they never thought they'd be in. Because of the twists and turns, it is difficult to give a lot of details without spoiling the ending.

The smarmy agent who is the target is Jerry Key. He uses sex and favors to get what he wants. He is unscrupulous at times. He has broken hearts and made enemies. When he winds up dead following the ladies' attempt at revenge, suspects abound.

Jane Glass is the least defined of the girls. She is working for a publisher of e-books and wants one of the other two women to recommend their houses pick up the hard copy rights. Jane is mad at Jerry because he tried to sell some of her story to another author.

Felicia Redmond had an affair with Jerry and lost her heart to him. She thought he loved her too but when he broke it off, it was not a good breakup. Felicia has dealings with Jerry professionally because he represents a married couple who co-write their books. Jerry sends Felicia mixed messages by stating that he wants her back in his bed. The married couple starts to have marital issues and this affects their writing, but Jerry doesn't want to get involved. When Felicia starts getting packages in the mail showing her in the nude, she is convinced Jerry is the one sending them.

Tallie Blankenship is an editor who needs a big break. Her boss, Ron, suddenly takes a leave of absence and leaves Tallie with the opportunity to serve as editor with their biggest client: mystery writer and slightly schizophrenic author Gaylord Cooper. Cooper is convinced someone is out to get him. He only writes one copy of his manuscript on a typewriter and no one messes with his story. To complicate matters another employee wants to take Ron's place and is bound and determined to take it from Tallie.

Tallie's mother wants her married and doesn't hesitate in letting the world know. She is constantly trying to set Tallie up with sons of friends. One such son is Keith Wages, who just happens to be a cop. On their first blind date, he saves her from a man trying to rob the coffee house they are visiting. Then he happens to be there when she almost gets run over while jogging. When they find a dead man in the air conditioning vent near her apartment, things start happening quickly.

Tallie and Keith have an on and off again relationship, primarily dependent on how much trouble Tallie is in with the police. But they are good together and find themselves attracted. Felicia's love interest is a courier who keeps delivering the unsavory packages. While Jack Galyan seems like a nice guy, their relationship is never really developed well. And Jane is thrown in the tale more for her necessity to the murders than any love interests.

The story is slow to get started and the mysterious issues are a little convoluted until near the end. As things become clearer, the tension picks up and the intrigue becomes more engaging. Unfortunately for this reader, by the time that happened, the lack of romance and the amount of madcap zaniness was wearing thin.

Whole Lotta Trouble is filled with crazy events, unique circumstances and adventures galore. What it is missing is great character development and romantic interests. The presentation is satisfactory and the package entertaining which leaves the overall impression as being merely acceptable.

--Shirley Lyons

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