Drive Me Crazy, by Nancy Warren

>> Friday, June 22, 2007

TITLE: Drive Me Crazy
AUTHOR: Nancy Warren

COPYRIGHT: 2004
PAGES: 335
PUBLISHER: Kensington

SETTING: Small town in Oregon
TYPE: Contemporary romance
SERIES: No

REASON FOR READING: I've liked Warren's Blazes.

Can't a guy look up a woman's skirt...

...without losing part of his anatomy? It isn't my fault the town librarian, aka Miss Alex Forrest, likes to perch on high heels and tall ladders for a guy's maximum viewing pleasure. The lady's bod and choice of outfit may be muy caliente, but the gaze is icy. Freezing. Arctic-in-a-bikini cold. Give her time. She'll come around to the old Duncan Forbes charm. And once I have that Alex in bed, she'll tell me everything I need to know about this town and its link to the lost painting my employers paid me to find...

I'd rather eat drain cleaner...

...than spend one more minute with that smug, big-city art professor, Duncan Forbes. The "Indiana Jones of the Art World"? Please. He couldn't find the Architecture stack till I pointed it out. And if I grabbed hold of his well-toned arm, it's not because he happens to be the sexiest man ever to destroy my Dewey Decimal System, it's because I'm not used to finding a dead body in my library and a girl can be excused a weak moment...

In the town of Swiftcurrent, Oregon, things are heating up. Dead bodies and missing masterpieces, family secrets and dangerous threats, a man who likes to feel his way around a problem and a woman who enjoys being the problem...it's all adding up to the kind of steamy sleuthing that just may lead them both beyond temptation and put their desires in drive...
THE PLOT: Librarian Alex Forrest plans to stay in Swiftcurrent, Oregon only long enough to settle her late grandfather's estate. She'll write up the memoirs he left in tapes, sell his house and then she's off.

But before she can, life in calm Swiftcurrent suddenly becomes more complicated when she finds a dead body her library, the very day the irritating (but attractive) Duncan Forbes appears in town. Is it a coincidence? Alex is not convinced he's the college professor he claims to be, in town only to write his book.

Indeed, it's not a coincidence, and Duncan is related to the affair of the dead body. He is the professor he claims to be, yes, but he's also a pretty notorious treasure hunter, specializing in recovering lost art. He's received a tip that Alex's grandfather might either have or know the whereabouts of a Van Gogh lost during WW II, and it seems clear he's not the only one who got that information, because he recognizes the dead guy as a crooked player in the field.

MY THOUGHTS: From what I see in the first pages, this was Warren's first single title, and I'm afraid it does show. It's a book that feels like a longer, padded category romance. I'm not sure if I can define it, I guess it's an instinctive feeling, just as some category romances feel like compressed single titles. It's not too bad, though, because some of the stuff she added to make it to ST length, like a secondary romance, was quite nice.

The romance between Alex and Duncan was ok, but nothing that kept me riveted. I liked Alex's style and enjoyed her uninhibited and uncomplicated attitude towards sex, and she and Duncan did have chemistry, but in the end, I didn't feel I really knew who these people were. Part of that is because after a while, too many pages were devoted to sex scenes. Don't get me wrong, they were well written, and the first ones didn't tempt me to skip at all, but after a while, they weren't adding anything new.

I actually liked the secondary romance better than the primary one. Alex's cousin is an interesting character, and so was her story, and she gets a very sweet romance. Plus, I very much liked the development of the relationship between the two women, who definitely have a history.

The suspense subplot about the missing Van Gogh painting and the murder wasn't very successful, probably because it was incredibly obvious who the bad guy was. So obvious, in fact, that I suspect it can't have been meant to be a secret in the first place. No suspense whatsoever here, and I wasn't at all intrigued.

MY GRADE: A C+. It was almost a B-, but not quite.

NOTE: I hate those a-letter-from-the-characters blurbs! Who the hell thought they were a good idea?

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