Fever
by Elaine Overton, contemporary (2006)
Kimani, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-790-X


I like Elaine Overton's stories but after reading Fever, I believe I can say that perhaps con artists and other sexy and exotic kinds of characters aren't the author's thing. I like her stories when the main characters are absolutely moral people. In Fever, Ms Overton wants to feature a heroine of "questionable beginnings", as she puts it in her foreword. I hate to say this but I find it very difficult to buy the heroine and her parents as con artists.

On the bright side, this story has significantly reduced instances of unnecessary head-hopping and switches in points-of-view in a scene, so this one is much easier to read where I am concerned.

As I've mentioned, our heroine Roxanne Sanchez is a con artist who has for a long time now gone clean. However, she decides to use her ways with a deck of cards to pay a visit to the Desert Rose casino in Vegas to... well, to be honest, I'm not really sure what her plan is because she's already chickening out before I am told what the plan is. At any rate, she wants to get into the bottom of her parents getting fleeced by the owner of the casino so I suspect that she wants to win the same amount of money that her parents lost from that very casino. Still, she gets caught and she's already halfway to abandoning her plans so she's not losing sleep over it.

She is, however, losing sleep over the hot fellow Isaac Bancroft. He's like Josh Duhamel's character in that TV show Las Vegas - he's in charge of all the cool stuff in the casino. Ike doesn't and can't believe that his boss Bobby will cheat people using fake housing schemes so he's determined to investigate the matter himself even as he wines and dines Roxie.

Like most of the author's stories, the suspense is the weakest part of the story because it has some "Huh?" moments. For example, the heroines' parents, for all they are purported to be good at what they do, are too gullible or too trusting to be convincing con artists. During the course of the hero's investigation, he discovers things that someone of his position should know beforehand, such as how his boss does his own accounting instead of passing the books to the in-house accountants. There are many aspects of the plot that don't make sense. Even the heroine's background as a con artist seems suspect as she comes off as too honest and too goody-goody to take up such job even in the past.

The characters are likable and their romance is nicely developed, but the motivations of the characters confuse me at times. Then again, there are so many things about this story that feel... odd. The characters are not convincing in their roles, the premise doesn't feel too credible, and things really don't gel together well in this story.

I believe Ms Overton's strengths lie in straightforward good people finding love and battling adversity. When she tries to introduce a little ambiguity into her characters, such as with Roxie, the end result doesn't come off too well. It is as if Ms Overton is forcing someone who is more used to playing the cop into playing the role of a suave con artist.

What I'm saying here is that Fever may be far from a bad book, but it is definitely one that I find hard to believe.

Rating: 67


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