Just For the Summer

The Last Lover
by Laura Van Wormer
(Mira, $22.95, PG) ISBN 1-55166-590-5
Sally Harrington is on a roll. She has a great relationship with a sexy, successful man, her journalism career is progressing nicely and she is attending a glamorous Hollywood party, mingling with the rich and famous.

All that is about to change.

In a few short hours, after a fateful meeting with beautiful starlet Lilliana Martin, Sally and her beau Spencer Hawes have their world turned upside down. As the suspenseful tale progresses, the layers of Sallyís life peel away and we see that Spencer is not as perfect as he seems and Sallyís career is starting to stall for reasons that just donít make sense.

The Last Lover is a sexy, fast-paced book and Sally is a very modern heroine who seems to have it all, but underneath the surface she is struggling to keep herself together. The first person narrative helps us develop a very intimate relationship with Sally and we canít help but get wrapped up in her trials and tribulations. VanWormer draws us into the tale so that we sympathize with Sally, foibles and all.

It turns out that Sally dumped her ex-boyfriend to start her passionate affair with Spencer. But as the events of that fateful night take over her life, she begins to see that Spencer is not all he seems and she is forced to fully face the extent of the hurt she caused her ex, childhood friend Doug Wrentham. Doug is a DA and when things turn dangerous for Sally, he gets pulled into the intrigue.

I donít want to say too much more about the plot because I donít want to give any surprise away: Van Wormer knows how to build a complicated plot with lots of twists and turns. She keeps the suspense cranked up and gives us a glimpse into the glamorous worlds of show business and the media, a world driven by ambition and power.

The first Sally Harrington book was Exposť. Fans who enjoyed Sallyís exploits will undoubtedly enjoy The Last Lover, second in the series. This book is more suspense than romance and VanWormer is planning more Sally Harrington books. By the end, the romance is not yet fully resolved and Iím sure that and Sallyís engaging manner will keep readers interested in her story in future installments.

I had a few minor quibbles with the book. Thereís too much time devoted to telling the minutiae of Sallyís daily life; a problem that is sometimes exacerbated by the first person narrative. I didnít really want to hear about how Sally drank some bottled water, walked the dog and so on, especially when such details didnít add anything to the character or advance the plot. Some of the minor characters were right out of central casting and needed more fleshing out to make them three dimensional. However, these arenít major problems.

The Last Lover has the hard-boiled style of an old Hollywood private-eye movie with a sexy modern twist. Anyone who enjoys a good suspenseful read and an engaging heroine will not be disappointed with The Last Lover.

--Tina Nigro

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