Don’t Look Now

High Country Bride

In Your Dreams

The Man from Stone Creek

One Wish


Springwater Wedding

Two Brothers

The Vow

Deadly Gamble by Linda Lael Miller
(HQN, $13.95, PG) ISBN 0373-77141-X
Deadly Gamble is more of a suspense tale than a romance, although there is romance in it. It is more of a tongue in-cheek comedic mystery than a romance although there is a pretty good hero in it. There is a tad (or more) of the paranormal but it doesn’t read like a fantasy. This is a fine book despite the fact that it is hard to classify.

Mojo Sheepshanks was born Mary Jo Mayhugh. Her parents were killed, apparently right in front of her, when she was five years old. She was found hiding in the dryer with blood all over her and no real memory of what had happened. Her stepbrother Geoff was arrested and confessed. He spent years in juvenile jail and was released when he turned 21, some years ago. Meanwhile, Mojo was kidnapped by her ex-babysitter/neighbor, Doris. She was raised by this woman, who called herself Lillian. They were on the run most of their lives, picking up two other strays along the way. Greer was a runaway-turned teenage hooker they picked up in a bus station and who promptly became one of the family. Jolie was the daughter of a man that Lillian fell for and lived with for a number of years.

Mojo is now twenty-eight and living over Bad-Ass Bert’s Biker Bar outside Cave Creek, Arizona. She works at home, billing insurance claims for a variety of doctors’ practices. It pays the bills, but not much else. Her latest romance was just put on hold. Tucker Darroch is an undercover cop who is divorced from his first wife and involved in a custody battle for his two kids. Mojo is concerned he is still hung up on the ex and wanted to cool things to make sure, despite some great sex and a real connection emotionally. Mojo is divorced, having married a man who did nothing but run around on her. Even though he is dead she has never really gotten over the emotional upheaval of that betrayal.

Mojo is now dealing with Lillian recuperating in a nursing home after having suffered a stroke and trying to figure out what she really wants to make of her life. She is thinking of a career as a private investigator. The last thing Mojo needs is more complications. But here they come. First, she starts seeing ghosts – her ex-husband Nick and her cat Chester. Then Lillian gives her a warning with tarot cards, including the death card. To top it off, she is “found” by her real uncle, Clive Larimer, who is a senator. And then she thinks she sees Geoff following her around.

Then it becomes apparent that someone is trying to kill her, sending poisoned chow mein to her house and threatening phone calls start coming in. Is Geoff coming back to get her? Does someone think she remembers something she shouldn’t?

This tale is a merry-go-round with lots of action, much of it a little zany. At times, the things going on in Mojo’s head are funny and she is just a bit crazy. Tucker is at times her rock and at times, really out of the picture. Their interactions demonstrate a tender relationship, but unfortunately, they are apart for much of the story and we don’t really see it playing out.

The story moves on the mystery. There are twists and turns at every point. The scenes with the ex are written in a way that is funny and at times, slightly chaotic. Mojo is glad to see him at the same time she questions her sanity because she is talking to a ghost, a style reminiscent of old movies that featured ghosts.

Deadly Gamble is not exactly a mystery, yet it is. It is not exactly a romance, yet there is some. It is not exactly a comedy, although there are funny parts. It is an enjoyable novel that is well worth your time.

--Shirley Lyons

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