Swept Away
by Gwynne Forster, contemporary (2000)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-098-0


Veronica Overton and Schyler Henderson are not exactly fond of each other. She is the head of the Child Placement and Assistance Agency that is currently attacked by Schyler's Advocate for the Child for placing an orphan in a lousy home. The girl is now missing, and Veronica's reputation as well as self-esteem are in shreds. Schyler sues, but eventually Veronica's agency is exonerated. Veronica, however, has had enough of her reputation being shredded, and deciding that she is not up to her job anymore, flees to Switzerland for some R&R instead.

Don't you just love people who can take time to go to exotic lands to recharge themselves when they want to?

Schyler is, of course, attracted to the woman he caused to stand in the defendant's pod, and he also can't help wondering if he has gone too far in mixing personal issues with the professional ones. He is, after all, a product of the welfare and his judgment is definitely clouded by his lousy childhood in foster homes. Besides, that woman looks great.

He gets his chance, however, when Veronica's dying mother makes her promise to find Veronica's father who has gone AWOL. Every Nancy Drew needs a sidekick and love interest, so guess who gets roped as Veronica's Hardy Boy.

Swept Away is a fast-paced, busy romance. It has lots of family secrets waiting to be dug out from the closets. If that's not enough, Schyler has lots of bad memories to exorcise, and he isn't above making Veronica apologize for her happy childhood. And she, while wonderfully headstrong and has a great no-nonsense attitude, isn't above making lots of compromise in the name of Indulging Your Man's Nonsense. Something is always happening, and trust me, there's a lot of somethings going on here.

The result, of course, is a story that seems like a social welfare reform tract as well as a Jerry Springer-esque soap opera mixed somewhat awkwardly. Oh, and the romance is thrown in like an afterthought. I can't help feeling that these two people would soon drift apart if they aren't kept busy running around digging up long-buried secrets, and for their own sake, they'd better find lots of long-lost relatives and family secrets to unearth after the honeymoon.

Swept Away's strongest points are Veronica's wit and feistiness as well as Schyler's eventual loosening up. That man really shines after he remove that stupid chip off his shoulder and start concentrating on the present and future instead of indulging in his self-pity blues. Unfortunately, there is just so much clutter in the story - I have a really hard time getting involved in the romance. It took me two months to finish this book, and I think that's a new record.

Rating: 63


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