I Spy
by Jacey Ford, contemporary (2005)
Berkley, $6.99, ISBN 0-425-20112-0


I Spy has its moments but it shares the same flaws as too many "romantic suspenses" out there at the moment: the author seems more intent on having the heroine apologize for being beautiful instead of focusing on the romantic suspense part of her story. The villain is a dead giveaway when this fellow first appears, for one, and the antics of the main characters become more cartoonish as the story progresses. I keep waiting for heroine Aimme Devlin to tap fists with hero Race "Yes, We Romantic Suspense Heroes Never Have Ordinary Names... And Your Point Is?" Gardner and yell "Wonderbra power, activate!" before turning herself into a bucket of fugly.

Aimee Devlin quits the FBI because apparently the pay isn't high enough to suit her tastes. No matter, she now co-owns the Partners In Crime business so it's not as if she's missing out on the whole "I dress in loose clothes to pretend I'm plain so I'm a full-fledged secret agent now, woo-hoo!" acts romance heroines are just dying to get into nowadays. McConnell Aerospace wants Partners In Crime to find out which one of its executive board members is selling confidential information to rivals while sabotaging the company's progress.

Being an intelligent romance heroine and a kickass investigator, naturally Aimee targets the wrong fellow: the CFO Race Gardner on the flimsiest of reasons. Race is actually an undercover CIA agent who believes that this saboteur may be more than just a mercenary - the security of Uncle Sam may be in jeopardy if this saboteur has its way! And so these two combine powers and hope that they won't do too many stupid things along the way.

The story may be amusing despite the main characters' obvious bumbling ways or Ms Ford's equally obvious inexperience when it comes to creating credible suspense. Or maybe this book isn't supposed to be romantic suspense as much as it is supposed to be a Scooby-Doo kind of adventure story with sex? I don't know. But Ms Ford has to go ahead and clutter the story with tried-and-true formulaic side elements, including one of the most irritating kiddie characters I've come across that creates all sorts of unnecessary problems for everybody.

I Spy, therefore, is a very derivative kind of romantic suspense that tries very hard not to deviate from the formula. The heroine stupidly unable to control her attraction to a prime suspect, the action hero with familiar action figure baggages and antics, the kid, the familiar lack of suspense, the way the showdown happens on schedule... let's just say that it will be very hard to be surprised by anything in I Spy, unless one is expecting tip-top suspense and credible investigative heroes and heroines who behave like top-notch investigators, that is.

Rating: 74


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