Thursday, December 4, 2008

Unleashed by Lori Borrill ***

I got interested in Unleashed after a post at... Smart Bitches or Dear Author - one of those 2 (I think it was SBTB). I'll look it up and link it later. It was a discussion about the dearth of good contemporaries and such, and how this one was so good, etc., etc. Having read and listened to some Harlequin Blazes and found some of them very good, I put it on my PBS wishlist and got it last week. It was also originally my entry for the Winter 2008 Reading Challenge under the Harlequin category, but then I listened to Watch and Learn by Stephanie Bond, and reviewed it under that category.

Nevertheless, it does fit in another category, the Civil Servant one - the one that makes me giggle to think maybe there are romances built around a postal carrier hero or maybe a customs agent or IRS clerk. Well, not that I don't think those guys are heroic or romantic, but the category is really meant to be tough and ripped SEALS and Marines and hardass cops and stuff.

OK enough blathering. After the buildup I got from (whichever blog), frankly I wanted it to be better than it was. The hero is Rick, a homicide detective with the San Francisco PD - a workaholic guy whose wife was killed a few years back, in a murder case (although I think she was killed in an accident associated with the murders, and not actually the original victim? not that it matters) that went cold. He picks up our plucky red headed heroine in a bar for a one night stand - something they agreed on before embarking on that night of hot sex.

She's Jess Beane, an up-and-coming purse designer from a small town in Texas. Well - she's really just starting out, and is part of an artists coop in SF. Some celebrity has just been photographed with a Beane Bag, and the photo is on a magazine, so she's on the verge of being the Purse It girl. She started her business with a small inheritance from her grandmother.

While she and Rick are boinking their brains out, her ex-husband has been following her - turns out he might not have signed those divorce papers yet, and therefore might get half that inheritance. When she realizes the ex is outside Rick's house watching, she leaves Rick asleep to take a taxi home, and the bad ex-husband steals Rick's car, which contains a major piece of evidence in a crime Rick is trying to solve. Of course, what's Rick to think after he runs a fingerprint check on Jess and learns she and the ex had been running an illegal chop shop, and the ex just got out of prison?

Now we have a road trip: Rick and Jess on the road trying to find Rick's car and the evidence, plus the stuff he stole from Jess's apartment. They end up in Texas, after 5 more days of sweaty sex by night and scowling and grumpiness by day over this one-night-stand that has totally turned both their lives upside down. How can Jess make enough designer purses to pay her coop fees, and how will Rick get that criminal behind bars? Plus, can they both get beyond their misery and find happiness together?

Look, it's romance, so yeah, there's a HEA. I had a hard time seeing the 2 of them together, although I did get how Jess was able to help Rick get past his wife's death. The writing style wasn't my cup o'tea - I don't have any specific examples, but I wasn't hooked. If this is the future of contemporary romance, I may stick with the old - however, I've read other Blaze contemporaries that I did really enjoy, so I'm not really worried. There is a future for them, and this one isn't necessarily the best example.

3 stars.

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