The Shaughnessey Accord
by Alison Kent, contemporary (2004)
Brava, $7.99, ISBN 0-7582-0670-4


Firstly, allow me to point out that this book is only 117 pages long and it costs $7.99, of which I assume $4.99 must have gone to offset the humongous cost of putting this book out in trade-size. Secondly, I am sure that the hero, Tripp Shaughnessey, has a calling card bearing his personal motto to live by: "Be nice and don't make fun of my first name, oh, and remember, you don't have to misspell my last name when you can just ask me if you don't know (it only takes a minute!)." Thirdly, I want to know the source of the back blurb writer's crack so that I can sic the narcs on that loser. Anyone who writes this kind of nonsense must be put out of his or her misery at once:

When someone screams Tripp Shaughnessey's name, it's usually a woman in the throes of passion or one who's just caught him with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar.

I can't imagine anything more sexy than the delightfully rhyme-worthy "Fuck meeeee Shaughneseeeeeeeeee!" Is that what the back blurb writer means by "screaming in the throes of passion"? The name, please. The narcs are waiting to do their job.

Other than that, this grossly overpriced short story is actually a pretty satisfying story. For a romantic suspense story, the plot is quite out of the box in that it isn't just another slapped-together "tortured burned-out cop and psychic artist heroine chasing a serial killer who is harrassing her" story. Instead, we have our sandwich maker heroine Glory "Glory, Hallelujah!" Brighton seriously considering that she should offer a little cream on top of the sandwiches she usually sells the handsome engineering officer Tripp Showerhead when the handsome hunk drops by. Little does she know that when she lures him into the storeroom one fine afternoon for him to inspect the cookie jar closer, he's actually an agent of a super-duper spy act called the Smithson Agency who is supposed to be on a stakeout. The bad guy he is supposed to keep watch on, Danh Vuong, slips by with his men and ends up holding a bunch of people hostage.

Well, let's look at it this way: so what if Tripp Submarineburger is a horrible secret agent? At least we can say that he goes down in Glory, heh heh.

Moving at a brisk place, this story covers what happens when Glory Glory Hallelujah and Tripp Sobighead are caught at the wrong side of the hostage situation and quick aftermath when Danh strikes at Glory to get back at Tripp Schmuckwinger. While the author's attempt to insert romantic elements can sometimes be jarring considering the tense situation our Glory and Tripp duo are caught in, on the whole Ms Kent manages to create a very readable, sometimes tense and suspenseful, and quite credible story of love amidst a crisis.

Tripp Sexybedhead is a nice hero, wonderfully free from the usual baggages of Treachery and Guilt, and he has such a nice way with words too. "You don't need superpowers. You have me. And I have you" has me sighing and giggling like a silly teenaged girl all at once. Glory is also a great heroine - in the time of crisis, she proves that she is an intelligent woman who knows to listen to Tripp Sugarbunbuns and to take care of herself. She also has a fine healthy attitude towards sex in that she is not some psychotic frigid innocent virgin desperate for sex. She's just... well, normal. Some readers have this strange belief that if the author doesn't rein in the heroine's libido, the heroine will turn into some out-of-control slut but Glory proves that one can be a romance heroine and still come off as a sane and sensible human being at the same time.

I have to mention one more quibble though: the "tough guy" talk. Sorry, Ms Kent, but I have a good laugh at utterly cheesy lines like "You bet your sweet bippy. This baby's been transmitting to 9-1-1 since you and your Halloween parade started marching around." What on earth is that? It is as if the literary equivalent of the FCC is looking over Ms Kent's shoulders and the poor woman has to watch her language. But at the same time, I also get lovely lines like "Fuckin' shit on a stick", which is an improvement over the Halloween parade party but not too much. Maybe it's just me after too many episodes of The Shield or Boomtown but the way these "tough guys" talk in this book would make even the Cool Bald Guy in The Shield cry like a baby.

But on the whole, the story has a great couple, great sexual tension, and a well-paced quickie action story with enough romantic elements to spice it up, the awfully contrived way the author introduced the first sex scene notwithstanding. If you are willing to shell out $7.99 for a short story or have a friend who don't mind if you borrow this book and never give it back, give this book a try. For me, its more down-to-earth setting actually makes it better than the longer The Bane Affair but even on its own, this story is fine way to lose myself in a few hours of vicarious entertainment. I've paid just as much for worse stories, come to think of it.

Rating: 85


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