Just a Little Bit Married?
by Eileen Wilks
(Silh. Desire #1188, $3.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-76188-0
***
Dr. Sara Grace is a wanted woman. Trouble is, she's wanted by a ruthless gang leader who knows that she's the only witness left who can testify against him. She was there when he walked into a hospital emergency room with an Uzi, finishing off one of his rivals. As the only remaining witness, Sara decides that perhaps she does need more protection than the police can offer.

That's where Raz Rasmussin comes in. He's been hired to protect her from the young, vicious punk. When Sara and Raz realize that there may be a leak at the hospital and that her whereabouts may become known to the wrong people, Raz takes her to his parents' vacation home on one of the islands off the Texas coast, hopefully far away from Houston and the bloodthirsty gang lord.

The only flaw in his plan is that he knows the locals and knows that he can't announce that he's guarding Sara. That's too risky. He needs a cover story. The only plausible story he's comfortable with is that of them being newlyweds. That way he can be around her without causing undue attention. That's why they're 'just a little bit married.'

Sara is an uneven heroine. She's alternately feisty and docile. Raised by an aloof aunt, she's more of an observer and participates in life on a limited basis. As a teenager, she was in a wreck that damaged her ability to walk. When she's tired, she has to rely on a cane. However, I never had the feeling that she pitied herself. Her hormones are certainly working. Several months before 'The Incident', Raz, then an undercover policeman, had come into the emergency room during Sara's shift, needing stitches. He disappeared much too soon to satisfy her curiosity. Ever since then, she's fantasized about him. Imagine her combined dismay and delight when she meets him for real.

Raz is more problematic, as are most police heroes. His last assignment went horribly wrong, with a young woman ending up dead. He's consumed with the idea that he can't have a relationship with Sara. The last thing he needs is another dead woman on his hands.

Sara and Raz are both wounded people, him psychologically her, physically and perhaps even emotionally stunted. This is evident when she notices how intimate it will be to share even a toothbrush holder. You've got to admire her as Raz teases her about her squeamishness around worms. I can't believe that a woman who can tuck a man's guts back inside his stomach cavity is squeamish about sticking a worm on a hook. Believe it, Raz.

While I appreciate that Eileen Wilks is a technically proficient writer, her characters didn't quite 'speak' to me. It's as though I'm watching them through a window and never get involved. I'm never brought into the story. I never worried about Sara's safety; I never doubted that Raz would recover from his psychological trauma. If a friend had dropped by for an unexpected visit and I had been forced to quit reading this story, I wouldn't have minded. To me, that's indicative of a three-heart rating. There were no emotional highs or lows as I read this story. With the way I see three heart books, this one is your call. Heads or tails?

--Linda Mowery


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