Select one of the keywords
The Damsel in This Dress    by Marianne Stillings order for
Damsel in This Dress
by Marianne Stillings
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2004 (2004)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Elizabeth (Betsy) Tremaine regularly writes searing reviews of J. Soldier McKennitt crime dramas. Of his latest novel, 'Strike Three for Death', she writes that 'junk, dross, rubbish, and detritus' doesn't even begin to cover it. McKennitt is none too pleased over this latest scathing review, and neither is his younger brother Taylor, who's also a cop and moonlights as a sketch artist. They come up with a 'caricature' of the caustic-tongued lady, whom they assume is a shriveled, sex-deprived old crone who sports dozens of hairy warts. And wouldn't it be funny, Taylor comments, if Soldier just happened to bump into the old battleaxe at the writer's conference he's attending that weekend. He adds one more wild speculation: 'what if she's young and beautiful and you fall for her?'.

Soldier is horrified when his brother's prophetic words come true. Betsy Tremaine is indeed attending the conference and is nothing at all like Taylor's unflattering caricature. In fact, Soldier finds himself 'enchanted' by the curvaceous blonde, and this terrifies him. He's sworn off women, or at least ones who want a commitment, and Ms. Tremaine definitely looks like the kind of woman who knows exactly what the word means. Betsy too finds herself immediately attracted to the tall, dark and very handsome writer sitting next to her. It isn't until they're paired up for a writing exercise that she finds out who he really is and by then it's clear that McKennitt wants some payback.

Their verbal volleying comes to an abrupt end when a stalker comes after Betsy in her hotel room. Soldier, Taylor and her home town police join forces to flush out the culprit. During their investigation Soldier moves into Betsy's sprawling Victorian house, just to 'keep an eye out', despite her insistence that she's no damsel in distress. That doesn't stop Soldier's protective nature from kicking in though, nor his raging attraction as he keeps telling himself to 'keep it professional'. Things get even more complicated when Betsy's overbearing mother returns from Paris, new man in tow. It becomes almost impossible for Betsy and Soldier to get a moment alone, if only to convince themselves that they're all wrong for each other.

This is a fast-paced and completely engrossing story. The dialogue is modern and witty, often filled with hilarious quips and/or zingers. There's loads of sexual chemistry between leads, Betsy and Soldier, not to mention a nifty little mystery that in no way detracts from the main love story. Debut author Marianne Stillings has taken numerous romantic clichés and run with them, giving her story refreshing perspective. I look forward to reading this talented author's next book, which I hope will re-introduce readers to Taylor McKennett. In the meantime, do yourself a favor and read The Damsel in This Dress; you won't regret it.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Romance books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews