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by Iris Johansen

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 1997
ISBN: 0-553-09715-6
Publisher: Bantam

 Second-novelist Johansen (The Ugly Duckling, p. 249) clearly has a penchant for superwoman protagonists who emerge victorious in the face of all adversity. Kate Denby, a scientist, is pushing 30, and her marriage--to an old-fashioned (i.e., chauvinist) cop--is over, but she's got three things that make life worth living: her work, her son, and her mother-in-law, who lives with her and cares for nine-year-old Joshua when Kate's at the lab. In fact, Kate's all-consuming work at Genetech in Oklahoma was a large factor in her ex-husband's disillusionment with their relationship. But Kate doesn't really care: She's getting closer and closer to a medical breakthrough she's researching at Genetech on her own time. Then, when Kate starts getting aggressively courted by famous geneticist Noah Smith--who wants her to help him with the final states of RU2, the ``miracle drug'' he's close to completing--trouble breaks out. Noah's lab explodes (it's thought that he died in the blast). Then it appears that whoever ``got'' Noah is after Kate. Following a series of minor mishaps, her ex-husband's car explodes when Joshua was supposed to be in it, and that's the last straw. Noah, who isn't dead after all, convinces Kate to head for the hills-- literally; once in hiding in West Virginia with Noah, Joshua, mother-in-law Phyllis, and Seth, Noah's darkly mysterious best friend/bodyguard, Kate and Noah are finally free to complete their research and plan for the release of RU2--which will, they think, eliminate all fatal illnesses in one big swoop. Unfortunately, however, Ishmaru, a hired assassin, is still on Kate's trail. There's a lot going on here, what with the futuristic medical breakthroughs, the determined assassin, the emergence of several late plot twists, and the romantic tension between Kate and all available males, but somehow it all works. Overall, then, a lively, engrossing ride by a strong new voice in the romantic suspense genre.