Jami Alden
2008, Romantic Suspense
Brava, $14.00, 320 pages, Amazon ASIN 0758225466

Grade: D
Sensuality: Hot

If you like romantic suspense filled with earthy, raw, sex, but with minimal character development and plot, then Caught may be just the book for you. The book has a promising heroine and a potentially interesting plot, but both are totally overshadowed by time spent on sex.

Ethan Taggart and his brothers run a security and investigation firm. The 17-year old daughter of a wealthy client has disappeared and Ethan is hired to locate her. The client's bitter ex-wife hires a rival investigator Toni Crawford. Toni is a genius, computer-geek who has recently started work as an investigator. I'm a bit fuzzy on Toni's legal qualifications as an investigator, but it didn't seem to bother anyone in the book.

Sparks fly when Ethan and Toni meet. In fact, Ethan is aroused immediately and for most of the book while Toni doesn't want to be attracted to him since the lipstick on his ear seems a clear indication that he's just come from another woman.

Despite her reservations, Ethan and Toni have sex within days of meeting. There isn't a lot of conversation between the two, but they do spend a lot of time thinking about how hot the other is. Not only did they have sex too soon in their relationship (and I only loosely use the term relationship), it seemed as if their focus should have been on the missing girl. I've watched enough crime shows to have drilled into my head that the odds of locating a missing person decrease if they're not found in the first few days. I'd think that a couple PIs would work harder to find a 17-year old and would be able to resist having sex with each other a bit more.

Ethan turned me off right from the start. He had a one-night stand with a woman he met at a reception, and could barely remember her name. He doesn't do relationships or love and describes in vivid, course terms what he does do to women terms I won't use in this review. In fact, his brother accuses Ethan of banging everything that moves.

Ethan's hot. How do we know this? Well, when the missing girl's mother first encounters him, instead of focusing on her daughter, she's so struck by Ethan that she's unable to speak. This happens throughout the book, as women freeze upon seeing him.

I found Toni to be an interesting character. A former computer geek, she moved from Seattle to California with a boyfriend, only to be dumped. Toni is gorgeous, but gawky. She had a lot of potential, but it was wasted in this book. My hope for Toni is that she dumps Ethan and takes up with someone else.

Every time I started to get interested in the search for the missing girl, the focus would shift to back to Ethan and Toni's mutual hots for each other. I never felt any romance between the two, making it hard for me to call this romantic suspense.

Combining a sparse plot with a detestable hero, Caught is just a stinker.

-- LinnieGayl Kimmel

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