cover image THE RED-HOT CAJUN


Sandra Hill, . . Warner, $6.50 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-446-61296-8

Burned out as a Washington, D.C., environmental lobbyist, René LeDeux retreats to his remote Louisiana Bayou Black cabin to regroup at the start of Hill's spicy conclusion to her Cajun Bad Boy series (Tall Dark and Cajun , etc.). In temporary residence is Tante Lulu, René's 79-year-old matchmaking great-aunt, who's in her usual rare form, planting plastic St. Jude statues all over the place, stitching up bridal quilts for those wild Cajun nephews of hers and waiting for the "love thunderbolt" to strike. When a couple of René's eccentric "tree-hugging" pals kidnap TV anchorwoman Valerie Breaux and abandon her on René's doorstep, Tante Lulu figures her prayers have been answered. Not René; the last thing he wants is a woman in his world, especially Val, with whom he shared an embarrassing high school sexual disaster. Ditto for Val. Recently canned for refusing to spice up her news stories with tabloid-style segments, she just wants to get back and raise hell about her dismissal. But Tante Lulu (and St. Jude) have other ideas. While the ending is a little overdone, Hill's thigh-slapping humor and thoughtful look at the endangered Louisiana bayou ecosystem turn this into an engaging read. (Apr.)