Reckless
by Julie Kenner, contemporary category (2000)
Harlequin Temptation, $3.99, ISBN 0-373-25901-8


The plot of Reckless stands out from this month's batch of neurotic, plot-anorexic packages of babies and secret agents series title, because it revolves around an unusual theme: female revenge on her high school male bullies. She will seduce, she will use, and she will abuse.

Down it goes into my bookbag. Nothing like a devious Mata Hari to cure my wimpy-heroine bad day, I thought.

Eeeurgh, I have to go, however, when I realize the whole revenge-plot thing is nothing more than an excuse for inane contemporary romance trite plot elements. Fake engagement, fake boyfriend, jealous tantrums, and lots of indecision on the heroine's part. I want to get out my stungun and redefine the term beserker granny.

Rachel Dean's the Ally McBeal trying to pass herself off as Mata Hari. She is a loser, geek, ugly, and dateless in high school which gives her lots of excuse to sink into low self esteem sulks when the plot needs her and her lovebird to stay away. Now she's a babe and she returns to an alumni reunion with the sole intention to seek, seduce, and abuse three male jerks that made her life hell years ago.

Our expert heroine seduces the wrong man, Garrett McClean, who happens to be her Target No 1's brother. That says a lot for her strategem skills. I start to feel a headache coming on when the Grand Seduction Plan of our Rachel Dean, seductress extraordinaire, unfurls.

Will there be any seduction done? Of course not. This book has to cater to the tastes of the Moral Majority, so what's left is lots of let's pretend you're my beau, Garrett, and make him jealous juvenility. It's as fun as watching Archie and Veronica trying to solve a Mensa quiz. There's absolutely no reason why the heroine should proceed with her plan if she is close to chickening out, just as there is no reason why she can't pack her bags by Page 99 and head off for a new start with Garrett.

But intelligence isn't our two main characters' forte. So I have to be subjected to a barrage of I'm not pretty! I'm not worthy! and I'm so guilty windbag wheezings from Rachel as the story tries to move on and on to the finishing line.

Why does the author bother to create a setting that requires a heartless heroine to work, only to chicken out and substitute neuroses for credibility, I will never know.

Rating: 24


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