Present Danger
by Susan Andersen, contemporary (2000, 1993 rerelease)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-6677-5

This is yet another one of those woman-on-the-run-from-psycho-hubby story, but Present Danger manages to overcome its rather lousy start to tell a great, sexy romantic suspense story. Actually, there's not much suspense, actually, but the romance's pretty engaging.

Aunie Franklin is the damsel in distress. She flees to an idyllic haven in the Pacific Northwest, where she finds love with machoman James Ryder. Everything else I expect to happen occurs - the crazy hubby gets released from the can and starts stalking her, heroine getting a job and her self-esteem back via the tried-and-true methods of Lipstick and Orgasms, the final confrontation. The baggages they have are predictable - and hence don't ring true, especially James's Torment. Aunie is a woman whose only lover was the psychotic hubby, she has a domineering mother, et cetera - Present Danger is really, really an old story done a million times before.

So often that the really terrifying notion of being stalked by a psycho gets diluted by deja vu.

Still, apart from the contrived attempts at baggages and James's sometimes Ally-McBealic behavior, those two sure can click. The love scenes are pretty oh-mama-hothothot, and those two sure have enough chemistry as befits the romantic part of this romantic suspense story. I suspect readers looking for a taut, fast-paced thriller would fall asleep, but those looking for a romance will be more amenable to Present Danger. I am, in that respect.

PD may be one tired affair, but there are enough moments to keep me reading. I even like James by the end. And that part when the heroine is gaping at the sight of the thickness and length of his, uhm, muscles, well, so am I, really. So am I.

Oh, and I hesitate to bring this up, but I did have a discussion with an online friend who has read this book too. She finds it vexing that of all the characters in this book speak in perfect unaccented English, except for a secondary character, a woman from Jamaica, who speaks in a thick, thick accent. As in woo-mon instead of woman and dropping all her gs for a ' (droppin', hangin'). I don't have an issue with that, but she does. "What is this? Ghetto-speak? If we want to be authentic, why isn't our Southern heroine laying her accent thick too? Her one or two gawds and y'alls are nothing compared to Lola's incessant woo-mons and hangin'-bangin'-wangin's! Annoying! Irritating! Stereotyping!"

I think she's overreacting, but I don't think she's alone in finding this issue - uhm, distracting. Readers sensitive about that may take note of this talkin' thing before they read this book.

Rating: 84

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