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Dead Ringer    by Annie Solomon order for
Dead Ringer
by Annie Solomon
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2003)

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* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Agent Finn Carver is on the hunt for missing plutonium. His last chance at finding it before it lands in the hands of terrorists could well rest in his ability to convince 'party girl' Angelina Mercer to infiltrate the home and heart of rich tycoon Victor Borian. Angelina's estranged, now deceased, mother was married to Borian and apparently the tycoon still pines for his lost wife. The fact that Angelina is the spitting image of her mother should make her infiltration of his Montana compound that much easier. But only if Finn Carver can convince the troubled Angelina to go along with his plan. And only if he can control his immediate and overwhelming attraction to a woman he knows would bring him nothing but grief. This is someone who seems no different from Finn's ex-wife, who broke his heart and almost got him killed.

Angelina's first reaction to Finn's crazy plan is simple -- she wants absolutely nothing to do with it. But when Agent Carver drops the bombshell that her birth mother was Mrs. Victor Borian and that her aunt is still in the tycoon's employ, Angelina agrees to go along with the scheme. She'd give anything to learn why her mother gave her up for adoption -- give anything to meet her last blood relative. Learning to be her dead mother, and possibly seducing Victor, would be worth it, especially if Angelina's pay-off is more information about her background. She throws herself into her assignment despite the no-nonsense Carver getting under her skin and in her face at every turn. Angelina realises she's attracted to the stubbornly over-protective, unsmiling agent as much as he's attracted to her. She works even harder to prove herself to him. But once she's inside Borian's isolated compound, new revelations blow the case wide open and expose Angelina and Finn to another surprising nemesis.

While Dead Ringer is not as gripping and cohesively put together as her debut novel Like a Knife, Annie Solomon presents another good story here. To some degree, her plot seems unnecessarily padded and the actions of the two leads not overly secretive (let alone smart) as they sneak around heavily guarded security without being noticed or missed for hours on end. Their fiery and antagonistic relationship, a nice plot twist and Solomon's solid writing style make up for this oversight. And though I found myself getting a little tired of the 'party girl' reference in Solomon's otherwise fine characterization of Angelina, overall Dead Ringer won't disappoint lovers of a good romantic suspense.

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