Mondello’s latest, a pulse-pounding, pitch-perfect addition to the romantic-suspense genre.
Cassie Alvaraz, a mystery writer in Providence, R.I., is smart, funny and attractively down to earth. She’s also on deadline and in need of inspiration. In search of fresh material, Maureen, her editor, suggests that Cassie dress alluringly and hang out in an infamous underworld bar. Cassie realizes the absurdity of Maureen’s idea too late, but she still feels game after spotting hunky undercover cop Jake Santos. Jake can tell right away that Cassie is no prostitute, and if she doesn’t get herself out of the seedy dive where he’s waiting to meet an informant, she might get hurt. Just as their flirtation threatens to get heavy, gunfire rips apart the bar. When the smoke clears, a local mobster lies in a pool of blood, and Jake realizes that Cassie is the only one who got a good look at the killer. Soon, the duo is on the run with, and later without, FBI protection, and the spark they first felt at the bar slowly kindles a roaring passion. Mondello brings terrific enthusiasm to this material: Cassie, the sassy heroine, is immensely likable, Jake, the dreamboat, is also a thoughtful cop, and their passion feels genuine. Action scenes are taut, while snappy dialogue manages to be by turns tough and cute. The supporting cast provides the right number of red herrings, but the plot breaks no new ground, with the heroes racing through a series of classic witness-in-peril clichés, such as a safe house that isn’t so safe after all. In the end, the real hook is the nimble tone that shifts from breezy to thrilling and back again with masterful precision.
Terrific escapist entertainment, as good as anything in Janet Evanovich’s oeuvre.