The Heiress and the Bodyguard

Lady With a Past

The Secret Millionaire by Ryanne Corey
(Silh. Desire #1450, $4.25, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-76450-2
Los Angeles cop Zack Daniels (sorry, I kept thinking of a whisky bottle) has been ordered to take a vacation before he does something stupid - like go after the thug who shot and wounded his partner. Zack takes his Lotus Esprit and heads north to Oregon, driving aimlessly, and ends up in a small town late one night, desperately in need of some cold medicine. The only drugstore is closing in ten minutes. Through an unlikely set of circumstances, Zack gets trapped in the basement of the drugstore after closing time with a willowy blonde named Anna Smith (sorry, I kept thinking of a trashy celeb- oh, never mind).

Zack goes into instant Lust Mode, and Anna is equally disturbed by this wisecracking hunk. They are soon rescued, and Zack plots to get to know Anna better. She claims to want nothing to do with him. Anna has issues, see. All her life, men have hit on her for her looks. At the moment, she’s running from a male friend who is jeopardizing his wedding to Anna’s best friend by claiming to be in love with Anna. Honestly, men.

Zack has his own issues, the biggest being that he can’t love and make a commitment, etc. Zack agrees to follow Anna home and pose as her new love interest in order to get the lovestruck friend off Anna’s back. Soon Zack and Anna are getting more involved than they thought.

Zack harbors a secret - he’s a multimillionaire, having made a killing in the stock market. Not only that, but he has a genius I.Q., and…

Was it his fault that he had graduated summa cum laude from Berkeley with little effort and even less dedication? No. And so what if he happened to be a member of Mensa? Everyone had skeletons in their closets. Being labeled a genius had been seriously detrimental to his social life. He’s been saved from complete humiliation by securing the position of quarterback for the football team, guiding them to the state championship. All brains and no brawn would have made Zack a very dull boy.

Too late, Zack - you are a dull boy. Perfection isn’t the least bit interesting, and this was just over-the-top. Oh, and he’s gorgeous, too.

Anna is a standard combination of “too beautiful for her own good” and “flake”. Here’s a woman who paints her house seventeen different colors (a towers-and-turrets Victorian, of course). More power to her, but she fast became someone I couldn’t identify with in any way. She complains that nobody takes her seriously, but does ninnyhammer things like making her house resemble an explosion at the Sherwin-Williams factory. Or when she’s driving the three hundred miles back to her home with Zack behind her, mooning over him and “absentmindedly ignoring practically every rule of the road”, including driving on the wrong side of the road. On second thought, I don’t want to identify with her.

The brightest spot in this book is the occasional round of snappy dialogue. Wisecracks abound. The secondary characters, Anna’s best friend and her jittery fiancé, are much more realistic and help bring about the happy ending. And the ending is clever.

The Secret Millionaire, with its “paragons of perfection” leads, ultimately failed to satisfy. Think twice.

--Cathy Sova

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