Slow Hands
by Lauren Bach, contemporary (2002)
Warner, $6.99, ISBN 0-446-61115-8


I love the title of this book - Slow Hands, nice. But like Ms Bach's debut Lone Rider, this is one of the strange so-called romantic suspense books where for some reason, you can spend hours whining about the man who has poked you while never telling you he loves you as you walk heedlessly into dark lanes in Dark Despair and Anger, even when you know there is the mad guy who has ambushed and threatened you once is hiding in the shadows.

I guess it's because this is a romantic suspense, hence suspense is only secondary to the silly angst-ridden nonsense going on in this story. Who cares that you are going to die? It's more a horrible fate to die unloved! Oh, oh, oh!

Pfffft.

And in a really bad gaffe, Ms Bach exposes the shadier motives of the superiors of the hero, ATF undercover special agent Alec Dempsey, in the very prologue, thus destroying any chance of a plot twist that may offer this story an element of surprise. I'm surprised that her critique partners, if not her editor, didn't point this out to her. Maybe they are all aspiring bad romantic suspense authors themselves.

Alec is assigned to a case where he has to pose as his old flame Keira Morgan's employee to keep an eye on a recently paroled convict, Ian Griggs. Ian and his (now dead) brothers robbed an armored truck a few years back, and the money and more are still missing. Only Ian knows the location of the loot, and Alec's job is to find what Ian knows.

But it doesn't matter. Alec and Keira spend more time lusting and agonizing over each other. They were teenaged lovers until he walked out in a coup de some-misunderstanding-and-all-manly-macho-garbage facto. Now he's back from outer space, and Keira, while knowing that Ian (who has assaulted her in the past) is out and about, is more concerned about whether Alec wants her or the town hussy Scarlet. Ian who? Shut up, Alec is seen with Scarlet! Oh, oh, oh, let poor Keira run along those dark lanes now in Despair! Oh, you poor woman.

Alec gets all woeful and manly over his concerns over Keira, but then again, his own inability to communicate or even warn her of his foreshadowings cause Keira to be deep in the smelly stuff in the first place. For an agent, he lets his own emotions cloud his issues that he pretty much lets the villains walk in and kidnap Keira for the Grand Rescue Finale. People who scoff that the romantic suspense subgenre, calling the books churned out by these authors as disposable pap with nary any brainpower behind the plotting, will not find any reason to change their minds after reading Slow Hands.

Frankly, with cartoony villains and a small town so obtuse as to let an obvious villain run the show, Slow Hands is a story of two self-absorbed inept gonzos (whom Ms Bach tells me are intelligent people - of course) who are so involved in their own melodrama even as the world collapses around them; gonzos that will probably be run down by traffic the moment they cross the road because they are too busy staring into each other rather than to look left and right before crossing the street. People in love can be too involved with each other, true, but the extent the two gonzos go in this story is ridiculous. They're morons in love, and I'm outta here.

Oh, one more thing: this author's writing style is irritating to the extreme. She uses italics on everything, like this. Apparently she is afraid that I may forget or miss out important details if she doesn't hit me in the head. Like the hero's name Alec Dempsey. Or how the heroine is hurt and afraid. Did I tell you how much I hate this kind of writing? Stop it or I will take a giant prosthetic middle finger and shove it up someone's, uh, nostril. I mean it.

Rating: 54


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