Tangled Sheets, Tangled Lies
by Julie Hogan
(Silh. Desire #1500, $4.25, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-76500-2
****
Julie Hogan has debuted in the Desire line with Tangled Sheets, Tangled Lies, a vastly entertaining story that will keep you turning the pages.

Retired lingerie model Lauren Simpson has just moved to Valle Verde, California, so that she can raise her adopted five year old son, Jem, in a nice quiet place. Her dream of opening an antique store is about to come to life and she is doing well on her self-imposed hiatus of two hundred twenty days without a man in her life.

Lauren grew up in the foster care system, and swore to herself that she would one day adopt a child from that system and give him the home she never had. She has just broken out of a less than happy relationship and is sure it is time to settle down with Jem.

Jem was abandoned as an infant and has been with Lauren ever since, first as a foster child and now as her adopted son. But Jemís real father is looking for him. Cole Travis just discovered he had a son. His ex-wife left him five years ago, never telling him about a child. She just recently died, revealing the secret to her brother while on her deathbed. Cole has been searching for over six months now, and thinks he may have found his pride and joy.

Cole comes to this little town a successful man. He is the owner of a construction company along with his brothers. Cole decides to take things slow, fearful of causing this young woman to run with his son. He poses as the handyman she needs. He plans to help get her house and barn ready to open her new store, scope out the situation, verify that Jem is his son, and then move through the courts to get him. As the lies start, it becomes harder for Cole to tell her the truth. When a unique twist occurs, and Cole ends up marrying Lauren, the lies build. So does the romance and love. Will the truth destroy them?

Lauren is a well-developed character, who feels real emotions and yet can be the cool collected model everyone saw in the catalogs. She loves her son, who is a delightful child. He is almost too good to be true, but luckily is not involved so much that it ruins the story.

Cole is a classic hero, yet struggles with how to get out of this web of lies he has woven. This is a weak part of the story, as he keeps taking the easy road of going with the lies, rather than standing up and telling the truth. In most stories that use this plot device, I get frustrated and the story loses its appeal. It is a compliment to Hogan that she kept me engaged despite my minute disenchantment.

Hogan uses humor in the right places, hot sex and romance in other spots and a good mix of real life interactions with the complications. In a short novel of only 186 pages, she does this with fast paced action, sound dialogue and short narrations.

I look for many more good stories from Julie Hogan. You wonít be sorry you spent an afternoon in Tangled Sheets, Tangled Lies.

--Shirley Lyons


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