Shades of Temptation
by Virna DePaul
(Harlequin, $7.99, R) ISBN 978-0-373-77674-0
***
After a botched shooting lands SIG's only female agent, Carrie Ward, on leave, Carrie is more determined than ever to prove herself - and the Embalmer is the perfect way to do it, as long as she and fellow agent Jase Tyler can keep their hands (and all of the other parts) to themselves.

It's a mutual attraction, though Carrie fails to see it that way for a significant chunk of Virna DePaul's latest romantic suspense, Shades of Temptation. Carrie has always been the tomboy go-getter, and Jase Tyler is a stereotypical ladies' man; as far as she's concerned, any interest he shows in her is relative only to her unattainability. She lands the case, though her superiors have doubts. This gives Jase a chance to step in - not only into the serial killer case but into Carrie's personal world.

Rotating through the viewpoint of Carrie, Jase, and even the killer, the Embalmer, himself, DePaul has established a very juicy suspense plotline, but the romance elements lack any kind of subtlety. Carrie's drive to be the best gets in the way sometimes, but it makes her endearing. Jase, on the other hand, seems to get off on undermining her, and readers will wonder what she sees in him besides a pretty package.

One does get the impression that the case itself isn't as important as Carrie getting over her issues and getting what she wants, but Shades of Temptation does still have a significant creepy factor. Fans of Sandra Brown, Laura Griffin, and Shannon Butcher will enjoy this novel, which is part of a growing series involving various agents of the Special Investigations Group.

--Sarrah Knight


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