cover image The Senator's Wife

The Senator's Wife

Karen Robards. Delacorte Press, $23.95 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-385-31040-6

When political consultant Tom Quinlan is hired to ""handle"" a politician's troublesome spouse, the spin doctor gets more than he bargained for. The young, unpredictable, Yankee wife of an aging Mississippi senator up for reelection, Ronnie Honneker is hard to sell to the voters. She's about to get a lot less popular. Bored with her passionless marriage, in love with Tom, she discovers the senator dead of a gunshot wound--and finds herself the prime suspect. Trite metaphors hamper Robards's (Heartbreaker) latest romantic suspense novel, and the narrative lampoons itself with some unintentional humor (""She would not feel so ill at ease if she'd had access to a lipstick or a powder compact, or even a curling iron""). There's a silly subplot about a scandal that the author grants only haphazard attention. The best thing you can say about Ronnie is that she always looks good, and the hero moralistically decides to sleep with her only after he learns that the sole reason she stays married to her husband is for his money. Neither hero nor heroine has enough charm to keep readers interested in a story this stale. (Feb.)