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Saturday, March 31, 2007

TBR Challenge for March

For a spring cleaning of your TBR pile, read the book that you keep avoiding.

To participate, post a comment here or on your blog telling what you read, how it fit the challenge, what you thought of it, and how long it had been in your TBR pile.

I chose:

**** White Lies by Linda Howard. Romantic suspense.

I'd been putting this one off because, in general, I'm not a fan of Linda Howard's writing style. Add to it that it's a 10-year-old reissue of a 16-year-old category romance, and I'd have been content to let it just stay in the TBR pile forever.

But it pushed my guilty pleasures buttons, and I'm glad I read it.

Jay is a divorced woman (yes, it was written in 1988, and this book follows the convention of giving the heroine's masculine names. I think the idea was to show how manly strong and independent they are. I've always found it irritating.), on the verge of losing her job to nepotism, when government agents approach her regarding her ex-husband Steve.

Seems Steve and one of their agents were in an explosion. One died, and the other's in a coma. Both bodies are too damaged for the agents to identify them, so they ask Jay to help. The injured and unconsious man responds to Jay's presence, and she gives them a tentative "well, it might be Steve" and they're very eager to accept that as a positive identification.

The agents are also eager to keep Jay by his side, and the doctor agrees, as her presence positively affects his vital signs (lowers his blood pressure, I'm guessing). They give her an offer she can't refuse: they'll provide an apartment for her and pay her a salary so she can quit her job and devote her time to "Steve."

When he wakes up, he has amnesia.

I think that's as far as I'll go--there are more developments, but we're getting into spoiler territory here, and even though the developments are pretty obvious, I don't want to ruin them.

White Lies is in some ways a quintessential romance, especially of its time period. The situations are unbelievable even to the most credulous, and border on the ridiculous, and the romance itself is rather naive, fairy-tale-ish. For example, Jay's willing to ditch her entire life based on the fact that she's been told that the injured man's eyes are brown underneath the bandages, and she's unwilling to peek under the sheets even once, because that would be violating his privacy (???).

But here's why I enjoyed reading it: I'm a sucker for secret agent intrigue, and for amnesia stories. I think it's the mystery about it that grabs me. I got sucked in wondering why the agents were so eager to have her identify the man as Steve, and of course the falling in love with someone you can't see is hugely romantic, like the story Gwen tells about herself and Newton in House Sitter.

Even more fun is when... okay, it's a spoiler, but if you didn't see this coming, I worry about you... ****spoiler**** both of them realize that he's not Steve, but each decides to keep the truth a secret to protect the other.****

I had so much fun, I didn't even notice the problem I've had with Howard's writing style--maybe it wasn't there, or isn't present in all her books, or it developed later. Anyway, I'm glad I read this, but it's not going to convince me to look for more.


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I guess it won't even convince you to even pick up the two books that are connected (or loosely connected) to "White Lies" either? *duck head* *grin*
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