Flashback by Nancy Warren
(Harl. Tempt. #838, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-25938-7
***
Flashback is Nancy Warren's first book, but with its polish and colorful characters, it's a far cry from what you'd expect from a new writer. With her easy touch in describing delectable heroes and with her ability to write provocatively sizzling love scenes, she has a potential to acquire quite a loyal following.

The back blurb caused me to approach Flashback with hesitancy. We're told that the heroine, Laura Kincaide, is reluctant to work with Jack Thomas because she still hasn't forgiven him for breaking her teenage heart. Then it goes on further to say that she won't even be in the same room with him. I pictured immature people who bickered and sniped at each other incessantly.

Well, the blurb is wrong! Yea!

At sixteen, Laura Kincaide did have a major crush on nineteen-year-old Jack Thomas. What changed everybody's life was Jack's mistake of getting involved with a cheerleader. He gave up his football scholarship, married the cheerleader and became a daddy. Twelve years later he's a single dad who still lives on Whidbey Island near Seattle. He's never forgotten Laura but the love of his life and his major concern is his daughter Sara.

Laura and Jack are going to be working together on the restoration of an old house. And for a while Laura doesn't want to be around Jack. But the recriminations and the bitterness are held to a minimum. These two are healthy adults and the sexual fantasies they indulge in would make Hugh Hefner proud.

Everything is going smoothly. Jack and Laura are regaining their trust and are including Sara in their plans. What throws the proverbial monkey wrench into their plans is Jack's ex-wife, the cheerleader, now a successful newscaster. Rather than tell you her reason for appearing, I'll let you find out for yourself. Part of my reluctance to reveal her motives is that I can't decide if it's whimsical or silly.

Ms. Warren's talent shines when she describes Jack. He's portrayed as caring, sensitive, lusty and frequently confused by the female population. He's complex, yet is one of the truly good guys. Laura isn't written with the same boldness. Her character is blurry and out of focus. I won't go so far as to call her wishy-washy but she's not written with the same strength of purpose as Jack. He's the shining star and his intensity often puts Laura into the shadows.

Another area where Ms. Warren shines is the believable sexual tension she describes. There's tenderness but the intimacy is provocative, adult and intimate. Those of you who want sizzle won't be disappointed.

To say that I didn't like Laura wouldn't be accurate. She just doesn't hold up her part of the relationship. And my ambivalence toward Laura is the reason I can't recommend this story wholeheartedly.

If you're a reader who puts yourself in the heroine's place, then you're going to have a dandy time. You'll enjoy your time with Jack. But if you're a reader who observes, then you'll see that the characters aren't equally fleshed out. That imbalance throws the story off, causing it to not quite reach its potential.

--Linda Mowery


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