The Wrong Wife

Bachelor Cop
by Carolyn McSparren
(Harl. Super Rom #1618, $5.50, PG) ISBN 978-3073-71618-0
Here is a tale that has moments of darkness, lots of angst by both main characters and some good romps in the hay.  The Bachelor Cop is Randy Railsback, a detective with the cold case unit.  He took the job knowing that he needed to help people reach closure, since he has some past issues that don’t seem to be resolved.  He has sworn off women in general especially those who seem to come with warning signs.  And Helena Norcross has “warning” written in many places.

Helena is a college professor who was raped one night by a suspected serial killer.  Several of his victims are  now dead, not from the rape attack, but from a second attack months after the first.  Helena’s marriage broke up over the rape, although it wasn’t in great shape prior to that.  She has two children, who know their mom is struggling with her emotions and periodic panic attacks.  Helena is determined to put her life back together and to be ready when the killer comes back.  She has signed up for a self-defense class and has also gotten a handgun.  Her very loose plan is to get strong, then somehow lure the killer in and kill him in a justifiable homicide.

Randy is the teacher of the self-defense class and immediately notices two things: Helena is a beauty hidden by baggy clothes and an unattractive hairdo, and she has a lot of pent up anger.  Her first night she attacks and almost hurts him.  He is determined to help her see that the best self-defense is calmness and surprise, not brute strength.  In getting to know her, he also meets her kids.  Not one usually attracted to kids, he is surprised he likes her nine-year-old son and six-year-old daughter.  When he starts looking into his students and realizes what happened to Helena, he opens her cold case and starts pursuing the old history.

Helena and Randy start off slow and build in their relationship as they both learn to trust the other.  It was the slow build-up and the depth to their discussions that made this unlikely romance seem believable.  Randy is not your typical playboy, even though he wanted everyone to think he was.  He has depth and is definitely one of the good guys.   His issues make sense, and ultimately make him a better hero.

Helena is a woman who has been through the toaster and lived to tell the tale.  She is both vulnerable and strong.  Her reactions seem quite normal for a woman who went through the trauma she did, yet she has had to be strong for her kids.  She has a female friend as support and this too is a nice addition to the story.  Randy consults the original detective often and the author does a good job of depicting a dedicated detective who really doesn’t have any leads.  At first, the assumption was that the police blew her off, but as Randy gets into the details, the police step up and help solve the crime.  And Helena gets her closure.

Many Superromances don’t have the depth of this story and most don’t include a little mystery and intrigue.  Those elements made Bachelor Cop unique and were one of the reasons I really got into this story.  It was hard to put down at times.  The kids were real kids and added to the story.  The villain was a little out of the blue, but made sense when all was said and done.  And the climax had suspense and action and a great kiss to top it off!

I have never read Carolyn McSparren before, but based on Bachelor Cop, I will definitely keep my eye out for her stories in the future.  

--Shirley Lyons

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