Lone Star Christmas

Midnight Rider

Once in Paris

The Savage Heart

Paper Rose by Diana Palmer
(Mira $5.99, PG) ISBN 1-55166-539-5
I've never read Diana Palmer before reviewing Paper Rose and, frankly, this book did not provide me with much incentive to repeat the experience.

Tate Winthrop has been like a big brother to Cecily Peterson. When she was seventeen, he rescued her from an abusive relationship with her stepfather and arranged an educational grant so that she could study forensic archaeology at George Washington University.

Now, eight years later, Cecily has discovered there was no scholarship. Tate has been personally paying her tuition, room and board all along. How does she show her appreciation? By dumping a tureen of crab bisque into his tuxedo-clad lap during a televised Washington, D.C. gala.

You see, she is furious that she is merely a charity case to Tate and so decides to abruptly cease her master's studies and take a job as assistant curator at the Native American Museum in D.C. A pet project of Tate's biggest enemy, Senator Matt Holden. Does Cecily sound silly and childish? Well, Tate is even worse.

Tate has been drawn to Cecily from the start, but he could never marry and have children with her. He is proud of his Lakota Indian heritage and won't have his pure blood lines diluted by any white woman, even Cecily. Tate has the distinction of being one of the most arrogant, self-centered, violent and inflexible heroes I have ever had the misfortune to come across in a romance.

I am willing to go with just about anything in a book, holes in plotting, erroneous historical references, etc., if I am engrossed in the relationship between the protagonists. But when the main characters are as unlikable as this pair, then all the other inconsistencies, and this book is full of them, become annoyingly apparent.

For instance, Tate is fanatic about his Lakota roots, yet as soon as he is able, he moves to a ranch just outside the reservation's boundaries, since he didn't care for the discrimination he experienced there. He dates a white woman, Audrey, who makes no secret of her disdain for Native Americans.

He is jealous at the thought of Cecily dating others, so he takes her virginity with no intention of marrying her and although he doesn't want her polluting his gene pool, he neglects to use birth control, not once, but twice. When Cecily's life is in grave danger, Tate books a flight to go to her that leaves the next day. Good luck to Cecily in the interim.

The background plot concerns the attempt to build a casino on the Lakota reservation, which could have been interesting had it been fully developed, and references to organized crime that never really made any sense, but seemed to be handy to put Cecily in jeopardy.

In the best romances, I fall a little in love with the hero, or at the very least, believe in the love the characters have for one another. But at the completion of Paper Rose, my overriding feeling was impending doom. This couple's future is a disaster waiting to happen.

--Karen Lynch

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