Connie Lane, Author . Dell $6.50 (320p) ISBN 978-0-440-23747-1

Shades of Miss Congeniality lend a rosy hue to this frisky romance, which will entertain those who enjoyed Lane's previous charmer, Romancing Riley . The story opens as Miss Kansas Summer Squash, Lacie Jo Baxter, is being kidnapped and tossed in the trunk of a car—tiara, beaded gown and all. A successful beauty queen is nothing if not resourceful, so Lacie whacks her captor with her baton and gains her freedom. Fearing another attempt on Lacie's life, local authorities assign FBI agent Ben Camaglia, who's cooling his heels in Kansas after roughing up a senator's son, to keep an eye on her. Though the attraction between the two is immediate, it isn't until the kidnapper strikes again and a startling piece of Lacie's past comes to light that things really start to heat up. The author's use of comically protracted sentences ("If [Lacie] had to be nice to Ben, it didn't hurt that he was the hottest thing in these parts since the Lewis house burned to the ground and the volunteer fire department couldn't put out the blaze for two days because of the corn liquor that Marge and Buddy had tucked away in their root cellar") will make some readers feel as if they've just run a marathon, but in the end, they will be glad they did. (Apr. 6)

Forecast: In an effort to grow Lane's readership, which consists primarily of romance readers, Dell will be placing ads in Mystery Scene. The book's cute cover and tag line ("When you're protecting America's sweetheart, love is simply out of the question....") scream romance, however, which may stunt this cross-pollination attempt.

Reviewed on: 02/02/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-1272-4
Open Ebook - 218 pages - 978-0-440-33469-9
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