Catch Me If You Can

 
Sweet Revenge by Nina Bruhns
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1163, $4.75, R) ISBN 0-373-27233-2
****
Identical twins, switched identities: Nina Bruhns takes these staples of category romance and uses them to pen an enjoyable romantic suspense novel. Staid school psychologist Grace Summerville has come to New Orleans because her identical twin sister Muse has gone missing. In their last phone call, Muse had indicated that she was in some kind of trouble so Grace is trying to find out what happened. What better way to ferret out the truth than by pretending to be the absent Muse?

While the two may look alike, Grace and Muse have very different personalities. Grace dresses in conservative suits; Muse wears skimpy outfits. Grace is looking for a solid, stable man; Muse likes bad boys. So “becoming” Muse is no easy thing for her sister. It becomes even more challenging when a good looking neighbor comes calling.

New Orleans detective Auri “Creole” Levalois had rented the apartment across the courtyard because he wanted to get close to Muse Summerville. The party girl’s most recent boyfriend is his key to finding the man who murdered his foster brother. Creole assumes that Muse will happily fall into the arms of any handsome man; that’s her reputation. He is surprised when the beautiful blond turns out to be much more prim than her outward appearance suggests. P> The author does not draw out the mistaken identity angle beyond reason. Creole soon discovers that Muse has a twin sister and figures out what’s going on. Since their goals are compatible, Grace and Creole team up to try to discover what has happened to the missing woman. In addition to the mystery, they have to contend with the strong attraction they feel for each other.

Creole is exactly the opposite of the kind of man that Grace wants. He’s clearly like her father, a love ‘em and leave ‘em kind of guy. Yet despite her good sense, Grace finds herself taken with the handsome detective. She senses that he is a wounded soul and is attracted to the idea of helping him heal.

Grace’s instincts about Creole are right on. Abused as a child, the product of the foster care system, Creole has been abandoned so many times that he protects himself from further hurt by refusing to get close. He can’t even bear to be touched. The only person he felt close to was his foster brother Luke but he couldn’t save Luke from his own demons. All Creole can do is to make sure that the vicious criminal who killed him is brought down.

The sexual tension between Grace and Creole grows and grows until it bursts into flames. The “R” rating results from Creole’s hang-up about touching as well as the incendiary nature of the lovemaking. The violence that punctuates the ending also warrants an “R.”

Sweet Revenge is Nina Bruhns third SIM. She combines a fast-paced suspense story with a hot romance. Her hero and heroine are both complicated and interesting people. Her New Orleans setting comes alive. She packs a lot into her story and finds the perfect balance between romance and suspense. Sweet Revenge is a real page-turner.

--Jean Mason


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