Just Breathe
by Dee Davis, contemporary (2001)
Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-8041-1967-8


I know Janet Evonovich did it. Suzann Ledbetter made a series out of it. But really, the The Golden Girls With Big Guns repertoire is old already. Give it a rest. Just Breathe attempts to mix Mad Granny Funnies with serious suspense, and the result is the author's own blood spilling on the pages. Just Breathe barely works.

Oh, and incompetent heroines aren't funny either. Chloe Nichols' trip to Vienna has been nothing but a series of disasters involving cows (don't ask), getting lost, tripping over dead bodies, hotel room fiascos... and she is a travel writer, mind you. Oh, and she has three hangers-on on her trip, three old ladies who hoot at young men and play fast and loose with guns. That's so funny, I mean, old women ogling at young guys - how tacky and hilarious! Tee-hee-hee. Someone please kill me now.

Meanwhile, trying to keep a straight face is our hero Matt Broussard. He has lost a woman before in what he believes to his own carelessness, and now he will never love again, yadda yadda yadda. When Chloe trips over a dead body in the train (bwahahaha - so funny!), our hero comes to our stammering, babbling, braincell-free heroine's aid. Alas, as he bids our smitten heroine a fare-thee-well, one Sabra Hitchcock - Matt' number one enemy - shoots him down. (By the way, Sabra has the hots for Matt too. I thought these I-want-to-f**k-the-hero female villains are found only in James Bond movies. Oh well.)

What next? Bedside nursing and groping. Chloe tripping. One old lady accidentally fires a gun. Chloe trips again. Chole falls. Chloe stumbles upon an accident. Chloe screams. Matt saves her. Chloe trips. An old lady ogles at how sexy Matt is. Another old lady gets her hands on a gun - everybody down!

The mystery is typical, to put it mildly. Matt is typical, if decent, as is increasingly often the case in romance novels, and just as it is becoming an unfortunate norm where my reading is concerned, the heroine is a vacuum where her grey matter is concerned. What's with all this no-life klutzy, frigid, neurotic women who think flirting is the greatest sin ever?

Just Breathe just suffocates me with its bad attempts at humor and utterly uninspired plot. It's a by-the-book formulaic attempt at romantic suspense with all the usual predictable stereotypes attached. It's really too bad there's no breathing space for even a little innovation from the author's part.

Rating: 55


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