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Black-Tie Seduction by Cindy Gerard
(Silh. Desire #1665, $4.50, R) ISBN 0373-76665-3
**
What does it say about a story if the reviewer can't remember the gist of the plot four days after reading? To this reviewer, it says the book was not worth reading, especially if what one does remember is less than pleasant. Black-Tie Seduction, the beginning of the Texas Cattlemen's Club series, is such a story.

Christine Travers comes from an abusive family and has made her own way in the world. She volunteers for the local museum and has found what she thinks is an historic diary from a legendary bank robber. She is determined to buy it at an auction and donate it to the museum. But one man who has always been a thorn in her side is Jacob Thorne. Jake is the owner of Hellfire International, a unit that fights oil fires. Jake and Chrissie first met when Jake had been seriously injured in one fire and Chrissie was the respiratory technician that helped him survive with treatments. But they have never really gotten along. Chrissie is too serious for Jake and Jake is determined to get her to laugh or smile or just get steamed. He thinks she is cute that way. Chrissie thinks Jake is spoiled, having been rich his whole life, while she has had to work hard for everything she has.

At the auction, Jake outbids Chrissie just for the sake of outbidding her. Then he torments her by making a deal that she needs to go out with him if she wants any chance of getting the book. This deal making goes on through the entire tale. Jake tries to outdo Chrissie by taking her to a fancy dinner and she gets even with him by wearing a sexy black dress that he can't forget. Then Jake tries to throw her off-balance with a hike in the woods and they end up skinny dipping and making love.

Get the picture? This is their entire relationship. There really doesn't seem to be a good reason why the two act like this, except maybe they are adolescents stuck in adult bodies. There is plenty of squabbling and several misunderstandings. There are some introductions of other characters, which I assume will be stars of future books in the series. But they really don't add to this story.

Black-Tie Seduction is one of those books that you wonder why there was a need to write it in this way since there were plenty of choices. The diary is really an excuse to get Jake and Chrissie together, and doesn't play much of a role. The Cattlemen's Club is really just a place where the boys go to drink and play cards. And the heroine and hero are less than charming and not at all memorable.

--Shirley Lyons


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