A Difficult Woman

Cop On Loan
by Jeannie Watt
(Harl Super #1520, $5.50, G)  ISBN 0373-71520-X
Sometimes authors try subtlety in both the sexual arena and in the mystery arena, so as to not overwhelm the reader’s senses. Usually it is one or the other. Watt has taken subtlety to a new level, masking most of the suspense and all of the passion, leaving a rather tepid story. 

The Cop On Loan is Tony DeMonte, a narcotics undercover agent from Seattle. He has come to Mondell to cover for an injured cop while he winds down from his last long-term assignment. He is feeling burned out but doesn’t feel he has any options. His mother, a retired cop, was swindled out of her retirement so he is paying for her condo. He is barely making ends meet and has to work. Tony ends up renting the basement of a librarian. 

Jasmine Storm has never had a renter before, but weird things are happening in her house. Her cat is out almost every day even though she knows she leaves him in the locked house. There is no sign of entry and the police don’t think much of her concern, until she is knocked down and injured when an intruder storms out of her shed and she is in the way. Tony agrees to stay with her and Jasmine agrees to let his dog tear up her yard. Muttzilla is a Great Dane that Tony rescued and he loves to dig up yards. So far, Tony has learned all kinds of new things about gardening since he has to repair the yards of neighbors and landlords. Jasmine is one of the more understanding landlords he has had.

The story is about these two figuring out if they have a relationship. It involves Jasmine’s relationship with another man, one who is enthralled with her father, who is apparently a well-known and well-respected businessman. Tony has issues he is dealing with from his life – an ex-partner (who became a drug addict) and his wife, and of course, his mother.  There is also some mystery about a local drug dealer that Tony’s new partner is hunting down.

I really struggled with the story. There was so little depth. Muttzilla’s antics are probably more detailed than anything in the story. It isn’t until the end that we really understand Tony’s and Jasmine’s relationships with their respective parents. The love story is so understated that I wasn’t sure if they were really ever sleeping together. There was little foreplay and what little sexual bantering they had was almost non-existent.  The mystery of who is getting in her house came and went. There was no build up of tension. In fact, it seemed like it was just a figment of Jasmine’s imagination until the climatic ending…which was not very climatic.

I really liked Jasmine and I also liked Tony. But they just weren’t developed well enough to engage the reader in caring about their love story. Jasmine was a list maker and extremely organized. Then all of a sudden, we find out that Tony has upset her enough to make her lose her need for lists. When did we find this out, it was after they had separated. There was nothing that led us to believe that they were so in love that they had changed for each other. 

I really don’t mind subtlety in my mystery tales and I enjoy a story that slowly brings the passion to light. However, Cop On Loan missed the mark on both counts.   

--Shirley Lyons

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