2001, Romantic Suspense
Pocket, $7.99, 368 pages, Amazon ASIN 0671027581
Don't start Open Season looking for another Mr. Perfect. While there are some similarities, Open Season is its own book and enjoyable on its own merits.
Daisy Minor wakes up on her thirty-fourth birthday to realize that she needs help. Daisy wants to get married and have a family, but since she has not had too many dates in her life, she knows something is wrong. Looking in the mirror, she decides to make herself over in order to attract some attention other than the mercy dates she's been on - or as she more colorfully puts it, the hopeless going on a mercy date with the pitiful. She goes through the works and emerges a sexier blonder version of her old self and begins to attract some male attention, namely from the chief of police. At the same time she begins to attract attention from a would-be murderer who knows that Daisy saw something she shouldn't have.
Daisy is a prim and proper librarian in the small town of Hillsboro. She doesn't cuss, she doesn't even jaywalk, and she still lives with her mother and aunt. Any woman who has ever thought that a makeover will change her life will love Daisy. She's clueless about clothes and makeup (one trait I just couldn't identify with) and remains slightly clueless about her appeal to men, even after her transformation. My favorite traits about Daisy are her intelligence and common sense. She thinks things through to the correct conclusions, and once she does, she's smart enough to take advice that benefits her. She's naive without being too stupid to live. Authors often try for naive in a heroine and end up with TSTL, and Daisy's a good example of how to pull it off.
Police chief Jack Russo likes the small town of Hillsboro and his calmer life after the stress of working with SWAT teams in Chicago and New York. He notices Daisy when he signs up for the virtual library. Jack has fun sparring with Daisy before her makeover, and after it, he notices a few more things. Once he sets his mind on Daisy, he's persistent about getting closer and once the criminal shows his hand, Jack is persistent about protecting Daisy as well.
On their first meeting, Jack and Daisy spar, but don't exactly ignite fireworks. That happens after their first kiss. Wowee!! Once the chemistry reacts, they are a hot combo. Their scenes together are cute, as well as sexy and there are some very funny moments between them too. A few of them involve Daisy's new puppy.
The criminals in the story are committing a particularly ugly crime involving women. There aren't any graphic details so don't worry, but the thought of what could be happening is icky in itself. As for the criminals, there's no secret about who they are. The suspense involves what they are doing and how they're going to get caught. Higher-ups in the town are involved and while I can't say more, I can say that a woman character other than Daisy comes into her own by the end, in a nice little twist that leaves the reader hoping if the author's next book is going to be a sequel or continue the story.
Open Season is certainly suspenseful, but it's not as laugh-aloud funny as last year's superb Mr. Perfect. The ending wrapped up a little too quickly and easily, with Daisy staying out of trouble like a good little girl during the big finish. It is still, however, a very entertaining read, and one I couldn't put down until the end.
-- Andrea Pool
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