Love With The Proper Stranger
by Suzanne Brockmann, contemporary(1998)
Silhouette Intimate Moments, $3.99, ISBN 0-373-07831-5

Mr Giggles here. My wife asked me to write today's review because she said that she was biased when it came to Suzanne Brockmann and her heroes. And since this is also some sort of suspense story, she thought I could read it too without laughing.

Okay. The story is like this: John Miller was an FBI agent that was still haunted by a botched assignment that resulted in the death of his best friend and partner. Now he posed as Jonathon Mills, suffering from Hodgkin's disease, to track down a female serial killer. He tracked her down to this island resort. The serial killer's best friend was Mariah Carver, and our hero has to get close to her to get close to the serial killer. He wanted to marry that serial killer and strike at her before she strick back. But he found himself falling for Mariah.

Okay, don't tell my friends but I find this a really nice story. My wife's right - John is a nice hero. I like that he is feeling guilty when he has to lie to Mariah, but no, it is not nice for him to show Mariah his private parts when he is still lying to her. Heroes don't do that, you know. But otherwise, he's okay. He's a little like Jack Ryan in those Tom Clancy books I read, with the same moral code and strong principles.

But Mariah is quite a disappointment. I like to read about strong heroines. My favorite is still Linda Hamilton's character in Terminator 2 (watch her with that bazooka!) and Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in the Alien movies. I think Xena is great too. But Mariah - she is so wimpy. She never even punches John in the face for lying to her. She has little character, actually, apart from this loving, giving woman. Not that I mind, but after a while, I want her to contribute something to the action. But no, all she do is to provide succor for John's mental torment. She is not Mrs King to John's Scarecrow, one thing's for sure. She is more of this sort of anchor figure, standing still and shedding tears of sorrow when John is low and tears of joy when John finally tells her he loves her. I still prefer a more active heroine that plays a significant contribution to the story. My wife told me this was one of the problems she found in Brockmann's shorter contemporary romances - the heroines are often placeholders and nurturing shelters for the hero's refuge from his inner demons. More often than not, they are comforters, nurses, Florence Nightingales to their men, but never an aggressive catalyst that keeps a story moving.

Oh, and while the story is pretty good, I don't know - quite sad really that John knows who the bad woman is, but he falls into her trap so easily. I always tell my male friends, never to underestimate the deadlier half of the human species. John... sad case. And what kind of spy changes his name from John Miller to Jonathon Mills? No wonder the bad woman finds out who he is so easily. Might as well he tattoo on his head My name starts with a J, two words, and the 60 seconds start now... But this is a romance, not a Tom Clancy story, so I think I shouldn't find so much fault with the un-FBI antics.

I would give this book a 74.

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