The Long Hot Summer

The Right Side of the Law

A Younger Woman

Beneath the Silk by Wendy Rosnau
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1157, $4.50, R) ISBN 0-373-27227-8
When reviewing, I try to make notes as I read and mostly they turn out to be about things I didnít love. For the first couple of chapters of this book I scribbled away like crazy; then I put the pen down and never looked back.

Jackson Ward is a New Orleans homicide detective. Heís also a loose cannon with a file full of reprimands. Jackson has so much trouble finding anyone whoíll work with him that his 13th partner in three years is a strange K-9 named Max he rescued from death row in the departmental pound.

In spite of all this, apparently heís a guy who gets the job done, so when the NOPD police chief finds out his daughter, Sunni, is the prime suspect in a mob-related murder in Chicago, he begs Jackson to return to his home town and sort everything out.

Jackson arrives in Chicago, finds an apartment in a building where the super owes him a favor (which just happens to offer an excellent view into Sunniís apartment) and spends a few days terrifying Sunni by following her around before he tells her who he is. The situation involves a raft of complications, including the fact that one of Jacksonís boyhood best friends, a man with mob connections, is Sunniís only alibi for the night of the murder (he lied and told the police Sunni was with him).

After an unpromising beginning filled with enough coincidences and implausibilities to choke the most credulous Pollyanna, this story takes on a level of intensity - both in the romance and the suspense story - that is just what I think an Intimate Moments should have.

Jackson and Sunni are a couple of tough cookies who are more than a match for each other. The author has done a good job with the characterizations, motivating them with weaknesses as well as strengths, making the people likable and their actions believable if not always admirable. The whole thing is written in an edgy, straight-ahead style that is blessedly free of endless internal monologues and contrived conversations where the characters sit around and explain things to each other for the benefit of the reader. This is a book about people who believe in action and it shows.

Sunni and Jackson also have great chemistry. Outside of the bedroom I enjoyed their Bogey-and-Bacall repartee, which actually sounded like two quick-witted people exchanging barbs (and not like a heavy-handed author trying to be cute). And in the bedroom - actually thatís a euphemism, because they find each other irresistible in a variety of locations - theyíre combustible. No misty hearts-and-flowers dissolves at crucial moments, no coy virgins and no hand wringing. These two want each other and they arenít afraid to show it.

Iíll also admit to being a bit of a sucker for a story in which a woman takes a man at his word when he insists that the relationship must be short term. Itís fun to watch him struggle with baffled disappointment when she doesnít try to pin him down. When he finally figures it out, Jackson is even more attractive when he brings his you-think-it-you-say-it style to telling Sunni how he feels.

There is a vividly sketched cast of secondary characters who help bring both the suspense story and the romance to life. Jackson, for example, comes equipped with a mother who, while loving and supportive, doesnít hesitate to step in and straighten out his thinking when heís tempted to wallow in self-pity. Not only is it a great scene, but itís good insight into Jacksonís character. Even bad boys should love and respect their mothers.

In the end, the romance and the story were strong enough that I was more than willing to overlook the improbable string of coincidences that were required to get this story in motion. Once on its feet, it ran away with me.

--Judi McKee

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