Thursday, October 16, 2008

Quick Looks: Wild Jinx

Wild Jinx
By Sandra Hill

The Premise: Once upon a time, journalist Celine Arseneaux had a big crush on John LeDeux, a notorious bayou bad boy. Her affections were not returned. Well, except for that one night in college when they both got really drunk and had mad, passionate sex, only to part the next morning, never to meet again. Well, maybe not never; this is a romance after all. Let’s just say that they don’t meet again for about six years, by which time Celine is an undercover journalist pursuing a very big story and John is an undercover cop pursuing a very big bust. Their touching reunion takes place in the sex club they are both investigating, ends in the two of them being hauled away in handcuffs, and through a comic series of events both end up being banished back to the bayou while the story plays out. Their enforced proximity leads to tensions that heat up very quickly. They can’t stop arguing and they can’t keep their hands off of one another. Add to the mix a slew of matchmaking relatives, led by the inimitable Tante Lulu, and things start to get really crazy. Celine is keeping a very big secret, and trying to keep her story straight around the inquisitive LeDeux clan is tough. John is desperate to hang onto his happy bachelorhood, in spite of being hit by what Tante Lulu calls “The Thunderbolt of Love.” In spite of mud, mosquitoes, treasure hunters, and general interference from the well-meaning, the two manage to not only lust after each other, but genuinely begin to like each other. It’s at this point that secrets are revealed and past hurts resurface, putting Celine and John back at square one and sending their relatives’ efforts into overdrive.

What I liked: The hero and heroine were both likeable and believable. Their love/hate relationship is well done, and as a result they have great chemistry. Tante Lulu is a gem. The bayou adds a nice dimension; I’ve lived in Louisiana and visited a few bayous, and the author does a great job of conveying the atmosphere. The historical background on Jean Lafitte is interesting and the environmental impact aspect is well done.

What I didn’t like: I found it really hard to keep track of all the characters, but to be fair I probably would not have found them as distracting if I had read any of the related books. I have also never been a fan of the “secret baby” plotline; fortunately the kid is neither alarmingly precocious nor revoltingly precious so I ended up getting past my initial negative reaction and enjoying the story.

Overall: This was fun, if sometimes confusing, and I would read more of Hill’s Cajun stories. If I had it to do over, I would have started with some of the earlier ones, but if you are willing to pay attention, this one works just fine as a stand alone.

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