Romancing Riley
by Connie Lane, contemporary (2002)
Dell, $5.99, ISBN 0-440-23596-0


I love the name Riley. Riley Finn. Yummy, even if he is written in one of worst inconsistent ways by Mutant Enemy. I mean, Angel is fine in a brooding, one-dimensional way (he came to life in Seasons One and Two during his own TV series, but an idiot in Season Three, where Baby Rubbish spoils everything), Spike is a wimp and a pussy now who prefers shagging soap opera Buffy, but Riley Finn, even as a jerk he is yummy, an interesting story of an idealistic young man being corrupted by darker forces in his psyche.

Oh, where was I? Oh yeah, this book. Riley's the heroine, though. Bummer. Anyway, if you have no idea what I was rambling about in the above paragraph, don't ask. Blank it out of your memory. My street cred, or at least TV cred, will go down the drain if I confess to being one of the 10 people out there who is in lust with Riley Finn.

I want to like this book. Riley Callahan, the heroine, has an unusual job: she shops for people under the witness protection program so that they won't have to expose themselves to danger. She also harbors a dream of clearing her fugitivie rock star dad's name by proving that it is dad's agent who has been embezzling money and not paying the IRS their due. But the agent dies, and she is implicated in his murder, as well as those of several other witnesses whom she happens to shop for. Maybe she is into something bigger than she initially suspected, so she's on the run now. Byeee!

She runs by driving a very, very pink Cadillac.

But hey, romance heroines, what can I say? Needless to say, she gets almost killed herself by baddies, and has to be rescued by her father's bodyguard Zap. Zap is actually Charlie Zapalowski, an US Marshal who is after Riley. He believes that Riley is working with some nasty fellow who exposes the witnesses' whereabouts to their enemies, and if he sticks around, he will find out Riley's evil plans.

Yes, this is one romance where the hero's lies are the swords that hang from the ceiling, waiting to fall on the lustily copulating couple on the bed below. And beware, Zap keeps lying even after he is sure that Riley is innocent. Is there a point to this, apart from creating the usual "You lied to me, aaaaah!" conflict? But Riley doesn't hesitate to stick it to him for his lies, so that's a good thing - somewhat.

Riley is a spunky lady, but she does a lot of stupid things like that Cadillac signboard of hers to every hitman who sees her face on the front page of every newspaper in town. Also, her behavior is all because of angst, rebellion, and Daddy's neglect. Romance heroines aren't bad, I guess. They are just bad because they doesn't get the idea that Daddy loves them. Or something. How sad.

But this book is funny. I like the inner Elvis thing. It is just unfortunate that the main characters can't come to life in a plot stuck in first gear all the way. Romancing Riley delivers the funnies, but not the romance.

Rating: 77


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