Manhunt
by Janet Evanovich, contemporary (2005, reissue)
Harper, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-059882-2


Manhunt was first published as a Loveswept category romance back in 1989. Even without checking the copyright notice, I can tell that this book was written in those dark old days. Let's just say that it contains some... traditional, shall we say, portrayal of gender roles that may raise an eyebrow or two. For example, when the hero pretty much drags the heroine to his place, he tells her to fix him breakfast, even telling her what to fix for him, and despite barely knowing that man, the heroine goes ahead and does just that.

But maybe I should rewind a bit. Our heroine, Alexandra Scott, has finally made it to management level in a Wall Street company, only to realize that, like all good women, what she really needs to be happy is plenty of breathing room and a man to love. So off she goes, trading her condo for an Alaskan cabin-cum-hardware store - one that she has never seen before she makes the deal, mind you. You can imagine what happens, I'm sure. A steady stream of calamity follows Alexandra as she discovers that the only good thing about her new property is the scenery. Luckily for her, her neighbor Michael Casey (conveniently rich, of course) is there to provide her with TLC with his manly embrace and all.

Romance is never the author's strongest suit - it's comedy. And even then, Manhunt was clearly written when Ms Evanovich was fine-honing the repertoire she would later perfect in her Stephanie Plum books. Therefore, this one has more awkward fumbles than chuckles, especially when the author resorts to the heroine acting like a flailing headless chicken for comedy. The heroine is especially annoying with her really insipid prattling about how she and Casey can't be lovers as well as friends, and when she's finally decided to change the rules, she gets steamed that Casey doesn't want to play along. This so-called conflict is just an excuse to prolong the story so that the author can introduce plenty of slapstick comedy and absurd situations.

Manhunt is a quick and easy read for some easy chuckles, which makes it an ideal beach read to enjoy without having to think too much or even pay too much attention to the words on the page. But as a romance novel, it's merely average.

Rating: 63


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