The Biological Bond

Breaking the Rules

Duets 43

Flirting With Danger

Rules of Engagment

Sleeping With the Enemy

Under the Covers by Jamie Denton
(Harl. Tempt. #857, $3.99, R) ISBN 0-373-25957-3
Burnt-out LAPD detective Blake Hammond is one day away from a long needed vacation to Hawaii. The last thing he wants to hear is that he's been teamed up with a DEA agent to solve a drug smuggling ring. Even worse news is that the agent is a female, and they will have to pretend to be married in order to infiltrate an exclusive honeymoon resort.

The agent is question is Ronnie Charmichael and she's not too keen on pairing up with Blake either. She only wants this case for the big bonus it promises so she can retire from the job she never wanted.

Of course, being that this title is part of the Temptation Heat line, there is instant sexual attraction between Ronnie and Blake. It's only a matter of time before they're locking lips and more. After all, they're supposed to look like newlyweds.

As is the tradition in law enforcement fiction, Ronnie is only slightly less beautiful than a supermodel. In order to make her more identifiable to the average reader, the author bogs her down with a lot of pathos. Poor Ronnie, she was forced into a career she didn't want because of a family legacy. Her first partner was killed, her second partner seduced and used her; and then got killed. She can't get any respect from the male-dominated DEA, something made worse by an Internal Affairs investigation. It's a bit much for such a short book, and it doesn't make Ronnie any more likeable.

Blake for his part is a standard romance novel cop. His credo is "women and the badge don't mix." Lest he appear sexist, it is explained that what he means is women can't deal with the fact that cops have to spend a lot of time at work and that they could be killed at any time. That explanation doesn't really help, does it?

The drug dealer subplot is pretty much kept to the back burner. Most of the casework is along the lines of Ronnie acts all cold and aloof toward Blake, Blake kisses or fondles Ronnie, Ronnie responds immediately but afterwards complains about the necessity of such an action. Blake then reminds Ronnie that they're supposed to be married and if she wants to stay alive they have to look convincing. Repeat several times. The case is solved so easily at the end that one wonders why it was such an unbreakable DEA case in the first place.

By the end of the book, when Blake and Ronnie are confessing their love for one another, I had my doubts. Here are two people who have spent just over a week together, and most of that was just having sex. It doesn't hold up hope for a long lasting relationship.

Under the Covers is a mix of prime-time cop drama and soft-core Spice channel. If that's what a reader is looking for, by all means pick this book up. If you prefer a little more meat with your heat, look elsewhere.

--Anne Bulin

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