His Seductive Revenge
by Susan Crosby
(Silh. Desire #1162, $3.75, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-76161-7
**
His Seductive Revenge will not be without cost. Millionaire Gabriel Marquez originally assumes that only the victim will pay a price. However, as his game plan progresses it becomes clear to him that he will not escape unscathed.

Gabriel Marquez owns the Galeria Secreto, where among his displays are the works of the very famous portrait painter, De La Hoya. Former Senator Chandler is reaching the end of his line, both literally and figuratively. Critically ill, he wants his only child Cristina's portrait added to the many Chandler generations. And of course prestige dictates that she be painted by De La Hoya.

The Senator is also plotting Cristina's marriage to Jason Grimes, the son of one of his partners in a recently committed crime of cost cutting, corner cutting and general shabbiness. This shabbiness caused the injury of one of their employees in a construction project. Chandler is also out of money and Richard Grimes agrees to lend it to him if their children marry.

Cristina Chandler is a perfect target for seduction by the sophisticated Gabe. Fresh, na´ve, trusting and inexperienced, she is accustomed to her value being judged by her dress size, inversely proportioned of course. As a designer size 14, she is becoming more comfortable with herself, but knows she is not a typical calendar girl of the month.

Gabriel is a man of many agendas. His best friend Sebastien was the employee critically injured in the accident. His mother was also "deserted" by Richard Grimes when Gabe was 15. The fact that Richard Grimes was married and his mother was his mistress apparently didn't lessen Gabe's moral outrage at the abandonment. The whole scenario seems to be set up to avenge himself on Richard Grimes and his de facto partner, Senator Chandler.

The strength of His Seductive Revenge is the sexual tension which starts fast and credibly sustains its pace. Cristina is a well-developed character but Gabe just doesn't ring true to me. His reasoning always seems murky, and his self analysis seems to emerge off the wall, fully blown, rather than evolving from sound reasoning. Also the transition which set up the conclusion was a bit bumpy with less than a logical resolution.

The book's weakness is that the reader must assume that Gabe's hurting Cristina will really make a difference to Richard Grimes. That I could never believe. I realize that a parent will certainly be hurt by a child's grief, but Cristina Chandler was a little too far removed from Grimes. That leaves breaking up a relationship between Jason Grimes and Cristina as retribution against Jason's father. This also makes no sense because Jason and Cristina are only friends and she wasn't even close to marriage to him.

I had the feeling that if I had read the first book in the "Lone Wolf" series I might have understood Gabe and all his friends better. But if fragmented leaps of logic and emotion don't disturb you, or if you have read the first book of this series and enjoy the cast of characters, then you may enjoy this book more than I.

--Thea Davis


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