Goodness Had Nothing to
Do With It

Tempt Me

Deal With This
by Lucy Monroe
(Brava, $14.00, R) ISBN 978-0-7582-1180-4
Deal With This is an erotic romantic mystery novel with the emphasis on the first two thirds of the equation. If you require a credible investigation and a complex plot, I'd urge you to give it a miss. If you're looking for some spicy situations built around fairly recognizable characters (frankly, I've read category romances with more depth and originality), you won't set yourself up for disappointment.

Alan Hyatt is some kind of secret investigative agent. He is in Vancouver to investigate the sale of stolen technology. Evidence points to people working at a local film studio. To have unquestioned access to them, he pretends to be a reporter writing about the film industry (as if criminal minds would be any less suspicious of snoopy journalists than government agents). He also gets lodgings at Jillian Sinclair's, an actress working for that same studio.

Jillian is one of those liberated women who has strict rules about everything. She forbids her lodgers from having relationships things may get messy and she doesn't want to be confronted with it. She forbids herself from sharing her bed with her sexual partners, from forming attachments, and from yes, you guessed it falling in love. Almost as soon as Alan walks in, all of her rules go out the window. Pretty soon, they are having fairly hot sex all over the house, including in her bed.

Alan continues with his investigation. He pursues one or two leads, but it is clear his mind is elsewhere: he's much more interested in discovering what makes Jillian tick. She is a quirky modern soul, interested in exploring her sexuality and in cultivating friendships with other marginal, boho types. Her character, or rather the caricature that passes for it, is drawn clearly enough. Hence, Alan's non-stop litany on her endless fascination and her incredible sensuality isn't only unnecessary; it quickly becomes tedious. His questions uncover a fairly standard story about a young woman who grew up in an abusive and dysfunctional family.

Alan may have the hots for Jillian, but he isn't too keen on long-term relationships. He has already tried them twice, and both attempts have ended in failure. Jillian is obviously different. Fortunately, the two stop lying to themselves before the bland story can actually put you to sleep.

And of course, despite one or two flagrant red herrings tossed our way, Alan wraps up the mystery without too much difficulty (I do wonder what Canadian officials would think about a U.S. government official operating, albeit undercover, in their territory. Thank goodness this isn't a real-life situation, or there might be a lot of jurisdiction issues to clear up.)

The emotional and physical interludes between Alan and Jillian aren't horrible, but at $14.00, this book is no steal. Rather than dealing within pages and pages of uninspired plotting and predictable backstories, I propose looking for a better deal.

--Mary Benn

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