Dangerous Curves
by Pamela Britton, contemporary (2005)
HQN, $6.50, ISBN 0-373-77035-9

If you are familiar with my reviews, you may know that I am a fan of Pamela Britton. In fact, it is not easy since I've received a lot of flak for my being so (I believe that the author's upbeat and sometimes over-the-top sense of humor can polarize readers somewhat). Therefore, trust me when I say that it is not easy for me to sit down and write down what I have to say in this review.

Dangerous Curves is Ms Britton's first full-length contemporary for HQN. Fans of her historical romances will recognize the same elements here that make those books enjoyable, but for me, these elements do not translate well at all into a story where the heroine is supposed to be a very talented and capable FBI agent but instead she - and the FBI - often act as if they are still in high school trying to solve the mystery of which cheerleader is having an affair with the football coach.

Cece Blackwell is supposedly the best in her line of work - explosives - and she is also the one who built a race car faster than Blaine Sanders' back in high school. Because of the latter, Blaine asks the FBI to send Cece over in unofficial capacity to investigate an accident that took the life of his driver. He suspects foul play but other people aren't so sure about that. Cece has made a fool of herself over Blaine in high school however and she still harbors plenty of grudges that cause her to act like... well, a silly high school girl.

The trouble with this story is, when I am told that Cece is a good FBI agent, I think Karen Sisco. I think Dana Scully. I think strong kickass women. Not a woman who, even when she knows that Blaine may be target of foul play, stands by and allows a fan to accost Blaine in the airport and then pretends to be a prostitute just to annoy Blaine in the process. Not a woman who, when told that Blaine may be a suspect in the "accident" case, quickly goes into denial because she believes that she knows the "real" him or something. And certainly not a woman who considers telling Blaine that he is under suspicion of engineering the accident that killed his driver. And this is just some of the things about Cece that perplex me within the first 150 pages of the story! And don't get me started about her bursting into tears after sharing her sob story about her past to Blaine and running away from him like some overly-emotional kook. Hello? "Best FBI agent"? This is an FBI agent?

There are also too many inconsistencies in this story. A particular scene that stands out in my memory is that scene where Cece tells Blaine about how she had to sell her race car because her family was too poor. And she ends this sob story by telling him that this is why she feels that she is capable of being a good FBI agent, ie she has a lousy childhood so she makes a good FBI agent. Hey, does that mean that if someone stole my lunchbox at school and made me cry, I'd make a darned good CEO of Microsoft? I mean, sure, I bet many kiddies have stolen Bill Gates' lunchboxes at school, I'd bet, but that doesn't automatically make him the richest man in the world. He has to have other abilities and traits to do that. And Cece displays very little of her abilities and traits to back up the author's claim that Cece is a kickass FBI agent. Another example is how at first Blaine blackmails her into working on his case because he insists that he knows she is the best for the job. But when she's on the case, he tells her that he has no faith in her abilities. Huh? There are many other inconsistencies which I won't reveal for fear of spoiling the story. These are inconsistencies that actually break the flow of the story, so it's not as if I'm nitpicking about eye colors that change from green to blue or anything that minor.

Cece also comes off as a very immature heroine, acting petty and pouting over some incident in high school. After a while I wish she'd either shut up or grow up because the whole "He hates me in high school so he HATES ME now, wah wah" whine becomes tedious fast. Since there are lives at stake here, Cece acting like a kid when she's supposed to be on FBI duty takes on a more ominous light.

Dangerous Curves is a book I just cannot get into because everything about it does not sit well with me. Be it the inept and immature heroine, some too-obvious inconsistencies in the plot development, the ridiculous villain, and the whole "we're still in high school!" conflict between the hero and the heroine - ugh, they become so, so tedious after a while and I start wishing that the author has come up with another premise for this story that allows Cece to behave the way she does without coming off like a national disaster waiting to happen.

Rating: 46

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