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 A romance that starts out like a breath of retro Daphne Du Maurier, but ends up facile and old hat. Where's a 36-year-old divorcÇe going to find her Prince Charming? Probably not at a mortuary in Tennessee, where Summer McAfee, president of the Daisy Fresh janitorial service, is scrubbing out the men's toilet on Saturday night, filling in for a cleaning crew that never showed up. Imagine her surprise when the corpse of a naked man jumps off an embalming table and takes her hostage. Even with a battered face that makes him look like a monster, Summer knows her attacker is ``just a man. A violent, cruel man clutching a scalpel with which he had threatened to cut her throat.'' Not exactly Jamaica Inn, but promising. Unfortunately, between the time he ties Summer up with her bra and the time he shields her body against a fusillade of bullets, the reader realizes that this monster (``Frankenstein,'' she calls him) is the hero. When he begins cursing her driving and criticizing the size of her purse, it's clear he's the Universal Husband. Regrettably, everybody's out of danger and onto the predictably beaten path of dime-novel romance. The untamed beast, also called Steve, has been mistreated and misjudged. He's an ex-cop back to find out who killed his lover Deedee. (Deedee's ghost shows up throughout, kind of a honky-tonk Tinkerbell.) Running from the bad guys, Summer and Steve ride the Smoky Mountains on a Japanese dirt bike with a temperamental Pekinese. Full breasted and hairy chested (not the dog), they make love in forest glades. When the ride is over, Steve is ready for take-out pizza and weekends at the mall. Robards's usual professional effort (Maggy's Child, 1994, etc.), but a disappointing descent into cute. (Literary Guild alternate selection; Doubleday Book Club main selection; author tour)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-385-31034-X
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1994


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