Saving Laura

Code Name: Fiancee by Susan Vaughan
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1342, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-27412-2
Code Name: Fiancee is a sequel to Guarding Laura which appeared earlier in the Intimate Moments series. The present story does not quite have the strengths of the former book but it is still an enjoyable read and can stand alone.

Nikos Markos is the brother of the greedy twisted Alexei Markos of the prior novel. Alexei met his end in a stabbing in a prison yard and his straight, hard-working brother Nikos has inherited not only his home and business, but also the problem of the ten million dollars Alexei had skimmed from a Middle Eastern terrorist group.

Alexei’s antique business was a good front for selling Middle Eastern antiquities that were provided by the terrorists. Nikos’ problem arises out of the fact that although Alexei skimmed from each sale there is was no evidence of the money. Now the terrorists are demanding it be repaid. Nikos immediately contacts the World Anti-Terrorist Organization and they send Vanessa Wade to serve undercover as his bodyguard.

Vanessa’s mission also includes finding the money and keeping it out of the terrorist hands as well as doing what she can to gain knowledge of where the next attack may occur. The message traffic seems to be indicating that something is planned for Veteran’s Day, which is nearly a month away.

Nikos’ fiancée Danielle is intercepted by the terrorist when she is on her way to the States to help Nikos plan the funeral services and to be with him during the winding up of the estate. Since their engagement is poorly grounded, she immediately ditches him as being bad for publicity. So Vanessa is able to come as her look alike substitute and plans to pass herself off as Danielle to the public.

The impersonation goes OK but Vanessa and Nikos have had one prior meeting when Nikos was dating her sister, a super model. Most of Vanessa’s insecurities stem from her perception that she is the ugly duckling sister, and Nikos has his share of emotional baggage emanating from his childhood when Alexei was the golden child and he was the also ran.

As they work toward solving the mystery of the next attack, the mystery of the missing money and the growing attraction between them, Vaughan’s well-drawn characters shift seamlessly from scene to scene with pert dialog and mounting tensions.

The plot line is a familiar one although a bit more topical than usual. Their anxieties are ones that we have all read about before, but the likeable characters contribute to a comfortable and easy read.

Thea Davis


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