By Love Undone

Don't Look Down

An Invitation to Sin

London's Perfect Scoundrel

A Matter of Scandal

Meet Me at Midnight

The Rake

Reforming a Rake

Taming Rafe

Billionaires Prefer Blondes
by Suzanne Enoch
(Avon, $6.99, R) ISBN 0-06-087522-4
Retired cat burglar Samantha Jellicoe is trying to play it straight. No, really she is. She's opened her own security company and severed some of her less savory ties. But when she spies her father (her long dead thief of a father) at an upscale auction, she knows her neat little world is about to be set spinning. Especially if billionaire boyfriend Richard Addison finds out that dear old dad just made off with his two latest acquisitions.

As the police's prime suspect, it's in Samantha's best interest to find those paintings - and fast. But what's a daughter to do - turn in her father, the man who taught her how to be one of the best cats around? As the pressure mounts, it's up to Samantha to straighten it all out before her worlds truly do collide.

This is the third Samantha Jellicoe novel and new readers are in for quite a treat. Enoch provides just enough back-story to keep us up to speed without slowing down the action. Those of you who are purists might want to check out Don't Look Down and Flirting With Danger, but honestly, I had no trouble coming into this one cold.

The five-month-old relationship between Rick and Samantha plays as real. They're at that stage where they're almost completely comfortable with each other. It's the odd moments of insecurity and of doubting each other that really sell the story. Even when Rick comes off as a bit high-handed, the reader gets it. His pragmatism balances out Sam's daredevil approach to life. And come on, life with an adrenaline junkie is bound to be a bit exasperating from time to time. In all, Enoch does a great job of taking larger than life characters and making them (and their problems) very realistic.

Another thing Enoch tackles realistically is the police. You know the usual suspense/amateur detective routine - the heroine always has a "special friend" or close pal who helps her avoid being the prime suspect. Not Samantha. Sure, she has Rick and his kick-butt legal team to rescue her from the handcuffs, but that doesn't convince the lead detective she's not the one he's looking for. It's Samantha who saves her own butt, but judiciously deciding what to tell and when. While Rick's billions make things go more smoothly, they don't solve all her problems - she does that herself.

What really sold this book is that Enoch doesn't shy away from the darker side of Sam's life. She does a great job of portraying her heroine's inner struggle against the baser side of things. Sam wasn't a cat just because her dad was or because she was raised to be one. She liked the life. In fact, she fed on the adrenaline rush and that's her real struggle. How can she reconcile being a not-so-reformed cat with being the girlfriend of a tabloid favorite? Especially since Rick isn't the type to cavort with criminals. It's her love of the take versus her love of him in a no holds barred fight in this one.

This one has a little something for everyone: witty banter, scorching sex scenes and enough "insider" cat burglar tricks to give you a vicarious thrill. Samantha Jellicoe is a perfectly flawed heroine with a very hot love interest.

--Amanda Waters

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