Obsessed
by Susan Andersen, contemporary (2001, 1993 reissue)
Zebra, $6.99, ISBN 0-8217-6822-0


I can now see why some fans of Susan Andersen since her Zebra days have abandoned her after she moved to Avon. Obsessed is very good, taut romantic suspense with two very well-fleshed characters, a far cry from her current The Buxom Barbie, Her Rugged Cop/Millionaire/Bodyguard, and her Queen Chichi the Crossdresser Best Friend outputs for Avon.

That's not saying that Obsessed is by any means original. To be fair, she did this one long before every Iris, Tina, Kay, Sandra, Maggie, Dee, Cherry, Gena, and - did I miss someone? - well, every other author started doing this too. While it doesn't have a serial killer - we have a serial rapist instead - it features a cop falling for the woman in trouble.

Detective Vincent D'Ambruzzi first encounters Doctor Ivy Pennington when he pulls on only a skimpy pair of red running shorts and charge on his new and very loud neighbors who are interrupting his sleep. Ivy just moved in, and her cousins and company have gifted her a huge bowl of condoms as housewarming gift. With this bowl in her hand, she greets Vincent and invites him inside.

Vincent barks most rudely that he doesn't go group sex with sluts. Ivy slams the door in his face, calls the nuthouse, and Vincent with his red tighties are dragged screaming to the padded room.

I'm joking about the phone call thing.

Their paths meet again when Ivy treats a rape victim who is just the latest in a serial rape spree. Each victim has a broken heart carved into her chest. Vincent is investigating, and when the serial rapist starts sending love letters to Ivy, they have to stick together for a while. Sparks - and clothes - fly faster than a murder of crows disturbed by a barking dog.

My, is it me or it's hotter than a smithy's forge in here? Obsessed is beyond conflagration, it's the kind of hot you only get when you dip your face in a vat of boiling lava. It's a singe all your eyebrows hot-hot-hot type of sexy, and Vincent is Bad Boy personified. He comes with all the right equipment and excess mileage for a mad, bad, naughty, down, and dirty, no make that filthy affair.

Ivy, a big plus, is an intelligent heroine. Vincent has a lot of crap, but she mostly does not take any of it. She isn't afraid to put that man down when his self pity gets bigger than his dongie. And she's a doctor, wow! And a doctor who isn't whining about how her job is such that she can't make babies now, boo-hoo-hoo! What a refreshing change from all those annoying, whiny, biological-clock-kaboombie kindergarten-teaching near-virginal single mothers so many authors are foisting on me nowadays like a shovelful of fresh horse manure. Ivy has brains, and she will look right at home in a better episode of ER (but Goran Visnjic is mine, you hear!).

Another amazing thing about this book is the dialogs and sense of place. The authors uses realistic dialogs like a pro - the cops are rough, gritty, and outright dirty (anyone want to "make a spunk run"?) while the hospital folks are trying hard to keep a sense of humor when they are surrounded by so much death. There's a sense of place here, bringing me right into the story.

But Vincent bothers me, and it is he who prevents me from giving this book a keeper status. He is really psychotic, and I don't mean that in a good way. He treats Ivy really badly because of his slut/bitch/stereotype ex-wife, and his actions go beyond misogyny too often. That is okay - he apologizes, and Ivy puts a stop to most of his crap with fiery gusto.

But when she learns of his ex-wife thing, apparently everything is okay now. Yes, blame it all on that woman, how easy. But I'm not buying. Vincent shows remorse and apologizes well enough, but he's doing that all the time because he just can't stop acting like a psychotic woman-hating give-him-a-bitchslap jerk. I am not convinced of his "hey, I told you of my bitch ex-wife and now that I know you are not like all the other bitch-slut women, I love you now!" redemption.

For a month or two of cheap and easy sex, sure, bring him on. But for long term thing, well, I'm not sure. I don't envy Ivy - her place on his too-high pedestal will always be precarious and not worth the trouble in my opinion.

Rating: 89


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