Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wild Jinx - Sandra Hill

Wild Jinx
Sandra Hill
Grand Central Publishing

Contemporary Romance

As an award-winning journalist, Celine Arseneux is prepared to do anything to get her story. This time, getting the scoop on the Dixie Mafia running a sex club entails dressing like a sex-starved tart and attending the club, the Playpen, pretending to be a customer. With her hidden microphone and camera in place, Celine is definitely uncomfortable, but ready to do her job. Then she sees him across the room. The last man she wants to see, tonight or any other night.

John LeDeux is an almost-reformed bad boy turned police detective. He’s currently working undercover at the Playpen, aware that a major raid will begin any moment. He’s shocked to see geeky Celine dressed like what his 92-year-old Tante Lulu would call a “scarlet woman,” sitting in the club. In order to protect the case and the resulting arrests, John manages to get her hidden microphone and camera away from her during a kiss that surprises them both.

When Celine realizes what John has done, she exacts her kind of revenge by printing a sidebar story about the hot cop who frequents the Playpen. She didn’t name names, but everyone in the department knows who it is. And that’s a problem, since John will be testifying against some very dangerous people when the case goes to trial. To keep him safe and out of sight until the trial, John is put on a paid suspension. To fill the time, he decides to participate in a treasure hunt instigated by his Tante Lulu, who is sure that some of pirate Jean Lafitte’s treasure is just waiting to be found in the bayou.

To help find the treasure, she’s hired professional treasure hunters Jinx, Inc. Several of John’s family members will be joining the expedition, too. And there’s a late addition. Celine arrives, assigned to cover the expedition. Tante Lulu is thrilled with this little development. She’s decided that it’s high time John got married, and she’s set her sights on Celine. Despite a one-night stand six years ago, John is far from ready for marriage, and Celine has her own reason to be more than a little wary. His name is Etienne, and he’s nearly six years old.

Let’s just get that last out of the way first. It’s not a spoiler. Etienne and his parentage are revealed in the first couple of chapters. The whole “secret child” plotline is a peeve of mine, and I admit I groaned when I read it. Celine’s reasons for keeping the secret are very flimsy. To her credit, Celine has begun to seriously consider the fact that her child has a right to know his father, despite her grandfather’s grudge against John’s family.

The rest of the book is frothy fun. Celine and John initially hate each other the way only two characters destined to fall passionately in love can. Their sniping is really quite fun to read. It’s obvious that many of the supporting characters are from previous books in this series, but, as a new reader, this works fine as a standalone novel. The treasure hunt is entertaining, and the author describes the bayou country so beautifully and with such genuine affection that it makes me want to brave the snakes and mosquitoes just to be able to see it. If you’re looking for a light romance with a good dose of adventure, you won’t want to miss WILD JINX.

Rating: 7
March 2008
ISBN# 0-446-61653-2 (paperback)


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