Bulletproof Bride by Diana Duncan
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1284, $4.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-27354-1
Silhouette Intimate Moments introduces new author Diana Duncan with her First novel Bulletproof Bride. Set in Oregon, this romantic suspense novel moves at a fast, but sometimes disjointed, pace.

Tessa Beaumont is operations supervisor in a small family owned bank. Two weeks before her wedding, Tessa and her best friend Melody argue about her bland colorless bridegroom and her monstrous mother-in-law to be. Melody is trying to persuade Tessa to call the wedding off, to no avail.

The discussion is cut short by Tessa’s need to get back to work since she is extremely short handed. Filling in as vault teller, she starts counting the day’s delivery when she notices checks instead of cash in one bank bag. Knowing this is very wrong she turns to call security when she is approached by a man with a mask and a gun. He grabs the bag of checks and Tessa. With her in tow, he escapes.

The bank robber is undercover FBI agent Gabe Colton who is trying to remove the counterfeit checks without the counterfeiters speculating about FBI involvement. He takes Tessa only because he realizes she had seen the checks, thus endangering her life.

From this point, the mystery side of the novel progresses in a fairly predictable fashion. The concept of the story is original but the execution is poor, relying on readers to suspend disbelief too often. Not only does it constantly stretch credibility, but it does so amidst dialogue that is cliché driven.

The chemistry between Gabe and Tessa is immediate, but impeded by the emotional baggage each carries. Unfortunately at this point, the author picked recurrent themes for angst. Tessa is the daughter of a soap opera star and the sister of a Wimbledon winner who was hidden in boarding schools because she didn't measure up. Gabe had been abandoned by his mother as a child and bounced from foster home to foster home. Sound familiar?

At a frenetic pace, the story concludes as one would expect. The author shows true cleverness in places and certainly imbues her plot line with innovative twists. Having raised the standard by this approach, it is regretful to watch her diminish it by the standard dialogue and the constant replay of childhood anguish that continues to dictate actions in adulthood.

--Thea Davis

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