Riley
by Lori Foster, contemporary (2003)
Harlequin Temptation, $4.25, ISBN 0-373-69130-0


Call me obtuse, but I fail to see the purpose to sticking an American flag on the cover of a standard series romance novel and calling it part of the "American Heroes - Men Who Risk Their Lives... And Their Hearts" series. Now, I know at this time of the year enterprising people can sell patriotism by the bucket loads to stupid people for five dollars a head (witness the American Idol 2 Josh Gracin phenomena), but really, the only thing I see our hero Riley Moore is risking here is his sanity. The heroine Regina "You Can't Be Too Stupid To Be A Romance Heroine" Foxworth isn't just Too Stupid To Live, she's Too Stupid To Live And Then Some More.

Perky reporter Regina "Everyone Loves Stupid" Foxworth is stalked. She's been harassed by evil SUV drivers. So what does she do? Get a chihuahua guard dog. Personally, give me a solid rottweiler rather than a dog any assailant can kill with one well-aimed kick, but hey, that's Regina "Let Me See How Far I Can Shove My Head Up My Ass" Foxworth! She joins a martial arts class conducted by Riley. Riley has been an ex-SWAT team turned ex-crime/forensics investigator turned kung-fu master. I'm sure if Ms Foster can get away with it, she'll make Riley a Navy SEAL too.

Riley is rightly aghast when he learns that Regina "Wanna eat my brain? I won't be needing it anyway" Foxworth is just thinking of getting a security system at the place she lives by herself (because, as she says, she has the right to live that way, you know). Then she tells him how, when she was stranded in the night after the evil SUV driver caused her car to go kapoof, a Senator offers to accompany her but she turns him down because she doesn't want to bother him, and I give a howl of pain because I really can't take it any more. Every single thing this grotesquely stupid creature Regina "Please don't Discriminate Against Me Just Because I Am A Puerile Moron, Braindead Zombies Need Love Too" Foxworth says or does just gets on my nerves because she's so stupidly perky and uncaring of her personal safety. When she says that she doesn't want to sleep with Riley because it will, you know, distract them from seeing the bad guys approaching, I really want to grab her by the ears and yell at her, "And right, after that chihuahua dog and a mess of a non-existent security system, and your Too Stupid To Live ways, it's so nice to see you know where your priorities are, now go drink from the toilet bowl and be silent!" right before dunking her face down the toilet bowl in question.

Riley is okay though. He's a typical Lori Foster hero - alpha, protective, and virtually indistinguishable from pretty much almost all her heroes in the past. But he's not the one running around the place just begging to be killed, so he's okay. The romance in Riley is also one of the author's better ones - no ridiculous try-hard virgin seductions, no sex shop nonsense - but it's just too bad someone forgot to sneak in the artificial intelligence microchip into the Regina blow-up doll before they ship her out of the Harlequin sweatshop.

Rating: 65


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