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A Stetson On Her Pillow
by Molly Liholm
(Harl. Temptation #862, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-25962-X
***
A Stetson on her Pillow is a fun story of two cops thrown together whose lust explodes while on assignment, and turns to love in less than three days. There is a madcap quality to this romantic adventure which I really enjoyed, but that enjoyment is lessened by a lack of consistency in the characters.

Laura Carter is a Boston-bred blue blood who wants to be accepted for herself, not her family name. Laura’s mom married five times, and two sour relationships herself has convinced Laura that she is attracted to the wrong kind of man. So she joins the police force, transfers to Chicago and is working hard to get the promotion she craves. Unfortunately for her, she is beautiful, is fighting a rumor that she slept her way into her current position and she has earned a nickname of the “Ice Princess” since she avoids all sexual come-ons. She has a crush on the new Texan in the office, but refuses to acknowledge it.

Clint Marshall is that Texan who is out to prove to the people in his hometown of Two Horse Junction, Texas, that he is worthy to be their sheriff. Clint’s mother loved living in their small town and making a home while his father wanted to move and explore. It was this sense of adventure that led to Clint’s daddy embezzling money from his friends and neighbors. Now Clint feels he must do well outside Texas to prove he is good enough, and he too is working towards that promotion. Clint is looking to move back to Texas, and settle down with some small town girl. He is attracted to Laura physically, but dislikes her haughtiness.

Clint and Laura are assigned to pose as newlyweds at a high-society wedding in order to get close to, gather evidence on and apprehend a suspected money launderer. But things get complicated very quickly. First, they are fighting their attraction. Then Laura brings along her Lapso Apso dog, who drools but doesn’t bark, since she thinks that is something a “high society dame” would do. An ex-prostitute who Clint has arrested a few times, is trying to get out of the business…and she dumps her baby on him for a few days while she hides from her pimp.

Chaos abounds and in the midst of it all, Laura and Clint connect with their suspects, who love cowboys and babies. The suspects, the bridal couple and another Special Forces policeman add humor, a little deception and some predictable actions to the story. For instance, the young bridal couple start having doubts until they see Clint and Laura’s playacting as so loving and convincing that love can work out after marriage. In general, I had fun watching Clint and Laura go from leery to friendly to lustful to lovers in the course of a few days.

There is one problem that permeates this story…neither Clint nor Laura act consistently in a professional manner, and I had a tough time swallowing their self-pity. Clint is a strong man, and I have every reason to believe he is a good cop with a solid reputation. Yet he enters into this acting like a rookie. He feels this assignment could give him his promotion, yet he walks in unprepared, he lets his feelings for Laura interfere with his concentration, and he jeopardizes his case with this relationship with the ex-prostitute.

Laura is a woman who has clawed her way through the system to get where she is, building a solid reputation so she is taken seriously. She wants the promotion and feels slighted that she gets a lot of the less stellar cases. Now she has a chance to really shine, and she immediately resents she has to work with Clint because of her crush. I have a hard time imagining that she made it to where she is when her actions and thoughts indicate so much hurt from comments made by peers and she is so full of self-doubt.

And then when these two people who pride themselves on their directness and dedication to their job are so incapable of confronting their relationship, I just lost interest in how things ended up.

“Funny, sexy, a real romp”…that is how I would describe much of the book. But ultimately I would have to add “a bit disappointing” to my description of A Stetson on Her Pillow.

--Shirley Lyons


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