Bad To The Bone
by Mildred Riley, contemporary (2003)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-390-4


Mildred Riley's Bad To The Bone has the potential to be an interesting crime drama, but half the time I'm thrown off by the gaps in time and sequence, pivotal scenes that are described in a few sentences within a paragraph or worse, off screen, and two main characters who rarely interact at all and when they do, they emanate sexual tension as hot as the inside of a meat factory.

Gangster dude Augustus Hodges wants our heroine Sherissa Holland dead as a warning to her hubby-to-be. The hubby-to-be, Jack Davonna, owes Gus a lot of money and he is behind on his payments. Sherissa narrowly escapes a murder attempt, and this brings her to Peter Linwood, a cop who inexplicably treats her like how one would treat a cockroach. And they wonder why people don't like cops, sheesh. But these two people rarely meet until the late third of the story, and when they do, suddenly they are having sex and declaring that this is love. In the meantime, there are subplots all over the place, from Sherissa's brother to Jack's getting into more and more trouble.

But the pacing is all off. The "accident" that almost killed Sherissa is described in three sentences. For a pivotal scene that triggers the entire story, I'd expect at least a few paragraphs devoted to the heroine's terror and feelings of vulnerability or something. Then we skip to "later" (how much later?) where Sherissa is talking to the cops. It's a scene that doesn't have any momentum building to get me engaged. It's the same throughout the book. Denouements, cliffhanger scenes, everything that is supposed to be "exciting" is just glossed over. People are dying, but the author writes as if she's describing flower arrangement methods in a housekeeping magazine. Where's the adrenaline? The momentum? The exciting build-up to a grand confrontation with the villain?

If the romance is lacklustre, a good suspense plot could have still salvage the book. Unfortunately, the author seems stuck in first gear, going through the motions as if she cannot wait to finish writing the book and be done with it. Actually, the feeling's mutual. I myself cannot wait to finish this book and be done with it.

Rating: 53


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