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Dying to Please    by Linda Howard order for
Dying to Please
by Linda Howard
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD, e-Book
*   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Being a professional butler is a job Sarah Stevens loves - as much as she's come to love and respect her employer. Retired federal Judge Lowell Roberts is a man who still has a few enemies who'd like to see him dead. For the judge's devoted children, Sarah's extra skills only make her more appealing - she's an expert markswoman and experienced in martial arts. Late one night Sarah thwarts an attempted robbery, and when the news leaks to the press she becomes an overnight celebrity. Within a matter of days she catches the attention of prospective employers intent on hiring her away from Judge Roberts.

She also catches the interest of Detective Thomas Cahill, a man who's sworn off love after a messy divorce. Also in the background lurks another shadowy figure who's determined to win Sarah's devotion in any way possible. When Judge Roberts is found murdered a short time later Sarah is crushed. While suspicions, and Detective Cahill's attentions, turn to her as a possible suspect, her alibi is airtight. Just as Sarah begins putting her life back together with a new job and a budding romance with Cahill, her new employers are murdered. The police wonder if it's horrible coincidence or if Sarah really is ruthless killer.

Sarah's a strong, interesting and likeable protagonist with an intriguing job, yet Howard puts her into a plot that's so easy to figure out it teeters on clich9. And while the personal interaction and romance between Sarah and Cahill is enjoyable and, without exception, very sexy, Cahill 'the cop' does not always shine. He's so busy trying to get Sarah into bed he overlooks some obvious clues presented early on. Even Ms. Howard's villain is a disappointing and overused stereotype whom readers have met in countless mediocre thrillers. As a light romance Dying to Please satisfies, but as a summer thrill ride the story unfortunately presents very few highs or lows and runs out of steam well before the sputtering climax.

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