by Lori Foster, contemporary (2004)
Brava, $14.00, ISBN 0-7582-0340-3
A good description of the plot of Just A Hint - Clint, Lori Foster's latest Brava, is to picture Wesley, Princess Buttercup, and Prince Humperdinck from William Goldman's The Princess Bride, only this time Lori Foster is taking the kidnap plot of her own Princess Buttercup, Julie Rose, very, very seriously. Unfortunately, some plots are too silly to be attempted without a healthy dose of self-effacing wit and the plot of Just A Hint - Clint is one of them.
Clint Evans is hired by the wealthy Julie Rose's fiancÚ to find her after she is kidnapped. But he is suspicious of Robert Burns' story of Julie being kidnapped by some villain named Asa Ragon. So when he and his friends Mojo and Red (does that mean that Clint's nickname is Cujo?) locate the hidey hole of the vilains where Julie is held captive, Clint goes into a terrifying rage when he sees Julie being abused by these villains. (She is not raped though because that would mean that the author will have to tackle the heroine's emotional issues and I guess she's more in the mood for macho slap-me-a-gun let-me-blow-them-away after-I-shagged-my-woman stuff.) Clint decides to keep Julie under his wing and in his care - and later, in his bed, of course - until he solves the mystery behind Julie's kidnapping and makes sure that nobody harms his precious Julie ever again.
Clint could have been an interesting hero because while he is all blustery and tough on the outside, he is also the kind of man who throws up after committing mayhem and violence. Unfortunately, the author doesn't leave much room for developed characters in this book so Clint comes off as some weird dude with hammered-on instant "nice guy" values awkwardly mashed with his efficient capability for violence for Clint's unconvincing redemption arc. Julie is either too easy on the smartass wisecracks or shivering in distress. Both characters never come off as two-dimensional, just efficiently created characters who are good enough to get the story going from start to finish and not much else.
The plot isn't much to crow about either, being as I've found it needing some campy self-satiric elements (or Fezzik and Inigo) to salvage its typical romance novel-style half-baked and often credulity-straining twists and turns. Also, while the pace is fast and zippy, the pace towards the end falters and eventually fizzles out altogether. Hey, isn't towards the ending where the climax should be? Hence shouldn't the pace become faster then? Hmmph.
For all her faults and strengths as an online persona, Ms Foster can really write red-hot sexual tension when she puts her heart into it. But if this book and the previous attempt at road-trip adventure Unexpected are anything to go by, she'll need to come up with some well-thought out suspense or espionage plot that will at least come off as a legitimate external plot instead of yet another "Oh, another author tries to write romantic suspense and does it badly... yawn, what's next?" sad story.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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