Mr. Hyde's Assets

Where the Heart Is

A Perfect Fit by Sheridon Smythe
(Lovespell, $5.99 PG-13) ISBN 0-505-52402-3
When Brooke Welch finds out her baby sister Dee has gotten pregnant, she’s out for blood. Determined to make the lothario pay, she kidnaps him and plans to force him into doing the right thing. All goes well with Brooke’s plan until she finds out she’s kidnapped the wrong man. As if that isn't bad enough, the man she did kidnap is none other than Alex Bradshaw, her new boss!

Alex doesn't appear to mind being kidnapped, especially when his kidnapper is as sexy as Brooke Welch. In town to figure out who is stealing from his company (a condom factory of all things), Alex decides to use Brooke’s mistake to his advantage and get her to help him discover the rat. In the meantime, their instant attraction works both for and against their cause.

The major problem with A Perfect Fit lies in its heroine, Brooke. The woman is in desperate need of therapy to deal with her uncontrollable rage. For approximately 300 out of 400 pages she is having an angry tantrum about something or another. If she isn't growling, she’s smashing plates, or fantasizing about smashing plates, or driving so recklessly she drops the hubcaps off her car.

The authors try to explain her behavior as a result of Brooke’s parents being murdered and how she had to take over the role of raising her teenage sister. Frankly, that doesn't fly; after six years Brooke needs to get over it or get some professional help. Although Alex finds Brooke's hair trigger sexy and endearing, I found it made her an incredibly unlikable heroine. It’s difficult to generate sympathy for someone who has immature bouts of temper at the drop of a hat. Making matters worse is Brooke’s “therapy”. It consists of one night of “tender lovemaking” and a very brief chat about her parent’s death and is too little to enact a believable change in attitude.

What Alex sees in Brooke, besides her oft-mentioned whiskey eyes and hot body, is difficult to figure out. Understandably, Brooke is rude and nasty to Alex at first when she thinks he’s the man who knocked up her little sister. After that, however, Alex seems to be a pretty decent guy, yet he is still treated like public enemy number one. All the barriers to a potential relationship are because Brooke thinks he would never stoop to being with a mere factory supervisor, or that he’s a heartless businessman interested only in money. At no time does Alex ever act like any of these things. The negative image of him is based solely on information given to her by Kyle, the plant manager, who she knows first hand is a sleazy liar. So why would she give Kyle the benefit of the doubt and not Alex? A good question, and yet another flaw in the character.

Even the sex scenes are marred by Brooke’s attitude. During their first attempt, Alex realizes he does not have any protection. It should have been a humorous moment, as he owns a condom factory, but instead Brooke has a hissy fit and accuses him of “screwing up” again. Sexual frustration is understandable, but it was hardly all Alex’s fault.

The rest of the cast was overshadowed by the aggressiveness of the heroine. Alex is an appealing hero, but came off as a generic misunderstood rich guy, who is, surprise, a major hunk. Elijah, the old family friend, provides exposition of Brooke's past as well as a neat solution for the mystery, but not much else. The sister Dee, the cause of the whole mess to begin with, almost never appears except in a note to Brooke calling her "scary" That was probably the most accurate description in the whole book.

There are a few funny moments in A Perfect Fit, the kidnap weapon being one of them. When Alex finds out what it really is he delivers a priceless line (I won't ruin it for you) Unfortunately, the humor is buried in Brooke’s frequent and annoying outbursts. Oddly enough, the scenes regarding the mystery at the factory are what provided some of the best reading in the book. That’s a sad commentary for a romance novel.

--Anne Bulin

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