Marianne Stillings
2007, Romantic Suspense
Avon, $5.99, 373 pages, Amazon ASIN 0060850663
Part of a series

Grade: B+
Sensuality: Hot

Several months ago, I picked up Marianne Stillings' Arousing Suspicions based on Lisa Gardineer's DIK review. Satisfaction picks up several months after its predecessor, featuring the brother of that bookís hero. This is a fun and suspenseful read, but don't be fooled; there's a surprising amount of depth as well.

After KALM-TVís star television chef and lifestyle guide Georgiana Mundy begins acting strangely, her boss is concerned. When someone starts playing tricks on the set that could sink her show, heís worried enough to hire a private investigator to find out who is behind the pranks - and why Georgie has been anxious and acting abnormally. So the station manager hires Ethan Darling, former SFPD detective and current owner of the best private investigation agency in San Francisco.

Ethan, being the testosterone-filled man he is, doesnít quite get the feng shui and new-age recipes Georigie features on her television show and in her books. What he is sure of, however, is that he is very attracted to Georgie. But both she and an old friend from a troubled childhood are in danger, and she doesnít trust anyone to help her - not even after she begins to fall for Ethan. However, when her friendís life is on the line, Georgie finally has to find someone to lean on and Ethanís there to help.

Georgie is a classic girly-girl and Ethan an archetypal alpha male; this isnít the most original pairing, but it certainly works well here. Though the bright cover and fun, flirty prose donít necessarily suggest it, both of these characters are tortured and face a lot of emotional struggles in getting together. While overall I sympathize with them and find their plight believable, thereís just a bit of an odd overlap, where I feel like Ethan falls for her a little too fast, and Georgie holds back a little too long.

The suspense is satisfying and the villain is a good one. Because I don't want to spoil anything, Iíll be a bit vague, but one personís motivations are a bit shaky and seemed to be tacked on at the end.

This book is sweet, funny, and exciting. Amidst the humor and suspense, the characters deal with some very real issues of trust, friendship, and loss. Itís a good combination and makes this book a great read. Ms. Stillings will be visiting Ethanís sister next and I canít wait.

-- Jane Granville

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