The Book: One Night In Texas by Jane Sullivan
The Particulars: Harlequin Temptation #1022, 2005, Out of Print
Why Was It In The Bat Cave TBR?: Sullivan has also written single titles under the name Jane Graves. I read two books by Graves during my TRR tenure, one which caused me to lose I.Q. points (I Got You Babe), and another (Light My Fire) which I found highly enjoyable. It was because of that latter book that when I saw Sullivan/Graves at an RWA conference Literacy Signing (Reno 2005), I decided to buy one of her category romances. Plus, I used to really like the Temptation line.
The Review: I took this book along for what I foolishly thought was going to be a quick trip to the doctor's office. Instead, I was held hostage in a waiting room for 2 hours, on what should have been a 5 minute errand, and all I had to read was this book. So yes, admittedly, I was in a bitchy mood. But I can honestly say I don't think that had anything to do with me not liking this story. Here it goes:
When she was still living in Seattle, Alyssa Ballard had a week-long affair with a hunky guy named Derek Stafford. It was hot, it was heavy, and Alyssa thought she had found "the one." Then one week later, he hightails it out of town, leaving behind an abrupt "Dear Alyssa" note. Naturally, she then decides to track the guy down, only to learn he doesn't exist. There is no Derek Stafford. Everything he told her was a lie. Now living in Dallas, she still feels like a world-class fool for falling for him, but fallen she has. It doesn't help matters that the sex was off the charts. Hard to forget someone who is not only sexy as sin, but also good in bed.
Derek is a top secretive operative working for the government (what agency is never discussed - but gee, minor detail that). His job is to break into a penthouse and steal some DVDs that a scumbag is using to blackmail some congressmen. Little does he know he's breaking into a building that Alyssa, who works for a real estate tycoon, manages. Yep, naturally they run into each other and all hell breaks loose.
Ultimately the problem with this story is that I don't believe in the romance. At all. Derek is a career liar. Alyssa eventually drags the truth out of him, but that doesn't stop him from running hot and cold for the entire book. He charms her, he seduces her, and then he vanishes into thin air. Then he breezes back into her life, does it all over again, and then vanishes again. Finally the poor girl has to say "Look! Could you make up your mind already? I'm getting whiplash!" OK, so I paraphrased that, but as the reader, I felt the exact same way.
The author tries to explain this jackassery on his job (OK, I can see that) but then tosses in the requisite Poor Traumatic Wounded Childhood That All Idiot Romance Heroes Have To Have By Decree Of The Romancelandia Governing Council. He didn't know his Daddy, his Mommy was a Drunken, Drug-Addled Ho, and he went off to live with an uncle who gave him a place to live and fed him, but was emotionally absent. Newsflash: just because your childhood was shit doesn't give you a free pass to act like a jackass. I think I was supposed to feel sorry for this guy, and my maternal instincts were supposed to go all soft and gooey, but yeah - I wasn't buying.
Alyssa seems like a nice enough girl. Truly. But after a while the shine wears off because of her inability to control her hormones. Derek keeps running hot and cold, and instead of telling the guy to hit the road she can't seem to keep her panties on around him. Hey, I can totally understand being hot to trot for a guy, but after a while, him treating you like shit should be a bit of a wake-up call. Just sayin'.
The bright side here is that all this hot and cold running nonsense boils over into a pretty good confrontation scene at the end. Alyssa puts her foot down, which means Derek has to resort to a Grand Romantic Gesture Complete With Speech to win her back. It might have worked for me had I believed in Derek, at all. But I didn't, so essentially it didn't. A leopard can change his spots, certainly - but it takes more than Harlequin Temptation page-length (comparable to a Blaze) to convince me of that. Oh well. The happy couple is settling in Dallas. It's a pretty large city. Certainly there are plenty of marriage counselors (and divorce lawyers!) should it come down to that.
Final Grade = D+
That's two duddy reads in a row for Keishon's TBR Challenge. Here's hoping for better things next month.