Dare To Love
by Jaci Burton, contemporary (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 1-60504-081-9

Jaci Burton must be in the mood to attempt to tackle the insurmountable when she wrote Dare To Love because this is a contemporary romance featuring a heroine being thrust into a marriage arranged by her father. She also has the story begin with a scene where our construction company boss hero Jake Dalton accuses the heroine Lucille Fairchild of being an uptight snob while adding his own "observations" about her clothes when she tells him to at least stop his workers from making catcalls at her every time she passes the construction site. The scene ends with him "volunteering" to show her what he can do with a woman, and no, I don't think he means clubbing a woman in the head and dragging her back to his cave.

It is as if Ms Burton is issuing a challenge to her readers by putting stuff in stories that normally come with a "Harlequin Presents" warning label on the cover. Are you tough enough to make it past the first ten pages of this story, readers?

Lucy, who has issues about being under the control her father, decides to "rebel" by agreeing to go out with Jake. Oh, Lucy. Some young ladies rebel by running off with bad guys who at least pretend to be nice to these ladies in order to get into their pants. Jake isn't even trying to be charming.

Meanwhile, Jake is having problems keeping his company afloat. I suppose his charming personality is not working its mojo on prospective clients. Then again, his business partner is more interested in setting Jake up with a rich woman like Lucy (clearly this man has an inflated view of Jake's value as a potential spouse), so perhaps it is to be expected that the company isn't doing well. These two men should have been working in the escort business, with Bob Dixon being the pimp and Jake the meat puppet.

The story never really recovers from its inauspicious beginning. Lucy comes off like a young lady who is trying to rebel against her father instead of falling genuinely in love with Jake while Jake is... well, he really missed his calling by not renting out his rear end to anyone with an extra fifty bucks to spare because he is like a Neanderthal minus any guilty pleasure type of charm. He's the kind of guy who really shouldn't ruin the moment by opening his mouth.

I enjoy this author's paranormal action romances but I fear that perhaps it is time I give her contemporary romances a miss. This one as well as her last few feel way too much like some 1980s Harlequin Present formula - they really aren't my cup of tea at all.

Rating: 49

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