No Place To Hide
by Madalyn Reese
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1242, $4.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-27312-6
**
Debut author Madalyn Reese shows some depth in her suspense plot and has a series of hot sex scenes that jump off the pages. The downfall to No Place To Hide is the two main characters who hate each other so much that it turns to love. If you can buy this type of love story, then here is a decent one. But if two people spouting awful things at each other, being angry all the time and then hopping into the sack because they are so hot they burn up tend to turn you off, then steer clear.

Emma Toliver is a workaholic jewelry designer who is running a family business and is deep into designing a new type of necklace. She has a major anger management problem, in fact, she is in therapy and speaks to her therapist daily. Emma is proud of her accomplishments, but is overwhelmed by the need to hire more workers. She is also compensating for having a father with a mental illness, and she’s recovering from a love affair that fell apart several years ago.

The love affair was with Anthony Bracco, of the Bracco family business that specialized in hostile takeovers. Anthony, while wildly attracted to Emma at the time, went in to take over her business in an effort to make his dad angry, hoping he’d get fired. But things backfired and major damage was done to his reputation, Emma’s reputation and their love affair.

Anthony turns up on Emma’s doorstep with an X on his back. It was carved there by a psycho who seems out to get him. Now this psycho, nicknamed Doppelganger, has turned his attention on Emma. Anthony, with the FBI in tow, sets up shop at Emma’s place to try to catch the madman.

The suspense is relatively innovative and keeps the story moving along at a brisk pace. The skill at writing this is what keeps me from going with a one heart rating. At times, even though I was upset with the romance, the apprehension kept me riveted to my seat. There were times when my heart was beating faster and faster as they got closer to discovering the identity of the psycho. Although I eventually guessed who the villain was, the motive was unique and the conclusion was well thought out and absorbing.

Anthony and Emma, however, hate each other throughout the story. They both said hateful things years ago, and neither has gotten much better now. They argue, fight and throw nasty comments to each other – then can’t understand why the other keeps losing his or her temper. Both sulk. Both act childishly from time to time and yet, are drawn like moths to the flame. I just can’t understand how two people who hate this much can even stand for the other to touch them, let alone to fall apart and into mindless lust each and every time.

Anthony swears he has changed, yet turns around and acts self-indulgent and thoughtless. Emma swears she can change, but then never really tries until the end, making her transformation unbelievable.

The secondary characters are somewhat interesting but never fully developed. Emma has an older friend named Charles who works in her studio and an employee named Brady who has worked at the store since she was a child. The head FBI man is a friend of Anthony’s and their history seems as colorful as that of Emma and Anthony. There are several other FBI agents, but none are given more than cursory roles in the resolution.

While No Place To Hide is an acceptable mystery, the characters and their antics take them down the Two Heart highway. Author Reese has some clear potential, she just needs to write her characters with the same believability she writes her suspense.

--Shirley Lyons


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