Shadow Dance
by Susan Andersen, contemporary (2002, revised 1989 edition)
Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-380-81920-1

Why on earth would Susan Andersen want to rerelease this book? Okay, maybe rerelease is not an appropriate description, as the author claims to have tinkered around this "classic masterwork" a little. (Give the Avon folks a bone and they will market it as a femura piece de resistance.) But this book doesn't need tinkering, it needs a complete overhaul.

Then again, maybe Ms Andersen is rereleasing this book to give all those inept romantic suspense authors some encouragement. "Listen ye, Linda Castillo and friends, pay $6.99 for my book and read and learn! One day too you will be better if you try a lil' harder. Enough of the prep talk, now gimme my money."

This is a very typical by-the-book romantic suspense story. Serial killer killing showgirls. Our heroine Amanda Rose Charles is a showgirl, but she's prim and proper, so all you readers out there can rest easy and relax now. Ain't no slutties in this house, no siree. In comes a cop, Tristan MacLaughlin, who hails from Scotland and boasts a most annoying accent. Remember, this book is written when Ms Andersen is undergoing a phase where every book has to have at least one character sprouting ethnic ebonics. I can't wait for a Chinese laundry man. "Ah so, me wash underweh, velly velly cheap only!"

From the moment these two meet, it's Bad Second-Guessing and Silly Misassumptions all the way. Sure, the sex is hot, but it's the kind of sex that has Short term stamped all over it. It's the kind of sex best enjoyed with legs wide spread and butts balanced precariously on the toilet seat while you're both making the truck stop washroom shake and rattle. The best kind of sex with no morning afters, just wham bam two meat slabs bangin' on the rack ma'am.

So yeah, the sex is hot. But the heroine is a silly brat who shrieks at the hero for carrying a gun for her protection, and the hero is a weirdo nutcase who should came labeled with "Hot Quickies OK, Go Long Term With This Time Bomb At Your Own Risk". For way too long these two are bickering like brats when they aren't ramming at each other like overheated porn stars paid by the hour.

What does this book prove then? This author can write great sex scenes, but at the stage of Shadow Dance (and some books after that), she can't handle relationships in her stories even for peanuts much. Her idea of conflict is juvenile bickering that culminates in lip mashing and groin smashing - great short term fun, really, but not very convincing when Ms Andersen is selling Mandy and Tristan here as some long-term committed couple, not when both the names and antics of these two conjure images of some seedy motel room home-made porno shag scenes. Sorry, Avon, Susan Andersen isn't the Queen of Romantic Suspense in this instance. Try Queen of Hot One-Night Stands We Wish We Have In Our Lives Passed Off As Happily Ever After... In Your Dreams.

So why should one read Shadow Dance? If you ask me, there's probably only several reasons to: to witness the act of an author airing her own dirty underwear in public (and charging people for the show) and to enjoy some nice sex scenes in your beach read while whiling away in the lovely tropical sun. If you want some nail-biting romantic suspense or even some little hot and heavy romantic relationship story, well, it's your own $6.99, people.

Rating: 67

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