Lioness
by Nell Brien, contemporary (2000)
MIRA, $5.99, ISBN 1-55166-598-0


Lioness is set in Africa. Ooh, I thought when I first read the synopsis. With images of a Safari hero that looked like a cross between Val Kilmer and Robert Redford, I sit back and dig in, preparing for a nice romantic suspense.

Er, what I get instead is an adventure story that is ruined, absolutely ruined, by the tacked-on romance. Were it an outright non-romance tale, it would've worked wonders. Instead, Lioness got greedy and tries to sell itself as a romance too. Big mistake. As a romance, this book is a complete flop.

When Cat Stanton receives her twin brother's badly mauled body fresh from Africa, she heads over there and tries to find out the truth about her brother's death. She meets Dan Campbell, the obligatory White Hunk in a land of natives, they indulge in obligatory sex scenes to please the easily-pleased readers, and they lie and lie and lie to each other.

Specifically, Dan lies more than Cat. This is a man who sleeps with the heroine all the while planning more ways to lie to her. So please, don't insult me by asking me to view him as a romance hero. Cat is a neurotic heroine with more skeletons in her closet than any woman ought to have, and she has no sense of humor whatsoever even before her twin died. Nice.

The adventure/thriller/suspense is also frustrating because it's a "everyone knows except her, but nobody will tell her until it's too late" scenario. Dan would have kept lying to her should circumstances don't intervene by the last few chapters. Am I to go teary-eyed at their happy ending? Me, I give them a year at most.

Lioness pretends to be a modern-day Safari thriller and romantic suspense. It isn't. It's an ode to the headaches to African bureaucracy red tapes, and yes, it's just as interesting as its subject matter.

Rating: 55


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