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Lone Rider    by Lauren Bach order for
Lone Rider
by Lauren Bach
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2001 (2001)

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* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Big city jewellery designer Tess Marsh runs out of gas on a dark and deserted stretch of Montana highway and in short order finds herself rescued by exactly the kind of man all mothers warn their daughters about - the leather-clad, darkly handsome bad boy riding a rumbling Harley. Tess has no intention of accepting Dallas Haynes' offer of help - he could be a serial killer for all she knows. But when an unsavoury gang of fellow bikers roar over the hill a few minutes later, Dallas suddenly appears the lesser of two evils and Tess agrees to let him claim her as 'his woman', if only to save her from being raped and quite possibly murdered.

For the next few weeks Tess is held hostage by Dallas and his murderous gang of bikers, and finds herself either loathing or finding herself wildly attracted to him. During her tension-filled captivity, she remains blissfully unaware that Dallas is deep undercover, an FBI agent on special assignment inside the biker gang to get the goods on a bigger fish, a South American drug lord. Dallas (aka Grey Thomas) has no intention of sharing this important bit of information with his hostage, however. It wouldn't be safe - for him and most especially for Tess.

All this happens in the first few chapters. From then on debut author Lauren Bach uses a few too many old plot devices to promote non-stop action. These range from Tess witnessing the murder of another agent, to shoot-outs and chases, to a high profile trial, to getting herself kidnapped (twice) and of course, to finding herself pregnant with Dallas / Grey's child and determined to raise the baby on her own because she's angry that Grey lied to her about his true identity. Bach's characters too, seem just a bit too familiar, close facsimilies of ones we've met in other romance novels. Tess: the blonde, voluptuous, virginal rich girl trying to make it on her own no matter what and despite her family's money. Dallas: the dedicated, sexy, yet stoic FBI agent who's married to his job and in crossing paths with Tess, realises that there's more to life than catching bad guys.

Even so, the author's writing style is eloquent, her story's pacing more than competent and there's no question that she knows how to create sizzling sexual tension between her two leads - indeed, once Tess and Dallas become lovers, the pages virtually smoulder, and not just in one or two scenes! Lauren Bach is already being compared to Linda Howard and a few other veteran romantic adventure writers; she isn't quite there yet, but the release of Lone Rider should see her move quickly up into the ranks of authors to watch in 2002 and beyond.

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