Getting Her Man
by Michele Albert, contemporary (2002)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-82055-2

In case you haven't heard by now, Michele Albert is Michelle Jerott writing under a new name. If you are now asking, "Who? What makes this Michele Albert woman better than, say, Michele Alfredo Fettucine?", well, you've been missing out on some pretty fine contemporary romances. If you like your heroines actually skilled and intelligent and the romance not entirely centered around the hero rescuing the heroine from poverty/evil/serial killer, what are you waiting for? Please don't let Avon change the author's name to Michele Alfredo Fettucine.

While not exactly The Thomas Crown Affair, Getting Her Man boasts a capable private investigator woman hounding her prime suspect in an antique theft. Diana Belmaine is an ex-police officer who is out on her own, carving a niche for herself as New Orleans' finest in lost antique recovery and investigations. (She has a degree in archaelogy, people.) The search for a missing strand of Nefertiti's hair leads her to Dr Jack Austin, a guy who is as rugged, macho, hunky, and debonair as they come. Sparks fly.

It is really a pleasure to read about two well-matched, intelligent people spar wits and snog. I'm a rather twisted reader in that I am actually disappointed that Jack has a "noble" reason to do the things he do, but hey, that's just me, someone who believes that unrepentant cat burglars and fancy seductresses need love too. But in the end, it's a nice read all the way to very end with John Mellencamp's Jack And Diane playing in my head and Jack and Diana flying away to their happy ending somewhere in Cairo.

But - here's a big problem that keeps this book from achieving the lofty heights of keeper status. The big, flat sagging middle. I'd expect a book inspired by The Thomas Crown Affair to be a bit more fast-paced and happening, but somewhere along the way I find myself at the bottom of a deep, deep ravine that is the sagging middle of this story, and dang if I'd rather snore away than to claw my way out of it. The sparks are there, and the sexual chemistry is there, but at the same time this book can be as slow as drugged-up snails. A few explosions and some wild upside-down-from-chandeliers sex (I'm sure it's possible... somehow) will have liven up things a lot.

Still, this book is a very well-written tale of a duo who are smart, witty, savvy, and clearly belong together, just the way good love stories are supposed to be. Getting Her Man could use a few extra gallons of rocket fuel to make things more happening, but in the end, Michele Albert got me. Dang.

Rating: 86

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