The Bad Luck Wedding Cake

The Bad Luck Wedding Night

Her Bodyguard

Her Scoundrel

The Kissing Stars

My Long, Tall Texas Heartthrob

The Pink Magnolia Club

Sizzle All Day

The Wedding Raffle

The Wedding Raffle

The Wedding Ransom

Give Him the Slip
by Geralyn Dawson
(Signet Eclipse, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-451-21963-5
Geralyn Dawson has carved a name for herself as the writer of light- hearted historicals set in late nineteenth-century Texas. With Give Him the Slip, she kicks off a series about three brothers, distantly related to her McBride Menaces, and tries her hand at romantic suspense. She doesn’t pull off the suspense part, but her signature style and her light-hearted humor work well in a contemporary setting.

Maddie Kincaid has a history of making bad choices about men. She’s even done some time in prison because of one of her more unpalatable associations. She had hoped all that was behind her when she moved to Brazos Bend to run a business providing care for the elderly. But even such an innocuous occupation can’t keep trouble away from someone with Maddie’s past. When one of her patients asks for her help cleaning out his house, she suddenly finds herself in possession of far too many hallucinogenic mushrooms. And when her patient dies unexpectedly, she can’t help but think there is something fishy going on in the small Texas town. Because Maddie suspects that the police may also be involved, she follows the advice of another client and heads for a DEA agent. Instead she meets Luke “Sin” Callahan.

Luke is taking some time off from his work as an undercover agent. He believes he is responsible for the death of his friend and partner. This doesn’t make him any more prepared to believe Maddie’s story and especially not when he learns his own father sent her his way. He and his brothers blame their father for the death of their younger brother. They have cut off all contact with him and doggedly avoid any attempts to lure them back to the family fold: sending a damsel in distress with a loopy story would be right up Callahan Senior’s alley.

Nevertheless, Luke’s bad-boy lustful instincts as well as to his inner knight in shining armor ultimately override his distrust. So despite all his vows, he accompanies Maddie back to Brazos Bend. There, he depends on the much exaggerated rumors of his youthful bad- boy ways to hook up with the local underworld. Needless to say, both a rapprochement with his father and a lot of close contact with Maddie are also in store.

While there are a number of plot twists that aim at keeping the reader guessing, none of them are truly unexpected. On the contrary, some of the developments may have true suspense aficionados gritting their teeth. What, for instance, is the likelihood Brazos Bend town folks can’t find out what the three Callahan brothers have been up to over the years? Even a fifth-grader knows about internet searches!

The mystery may not be all that riveting, but the characters are quite engaging. Maddie has a rather outlandish back story, but she is a touching and compelling combination of insecurities and determination, sexy postures and tough attitudes. Luke is roguish charmer with his own vulnerabilities. Even though we’ve seen these types often enough, Dawson does a very convincing job with both of them.

This is less the case with some of the secondary characters. Luke’s brothers, who will feature in their own stories, are quite delectable and especially so for readers who like sexy law enforcement types with a strong streak of humor. On the other hand, some of the town people border on annoyingly caricatural. If you can overlook such flaws and concentrate on the romantic relationship, you will be in for a pleasurable read.

--Mary Benn

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