Wild Jinx

Sandra Hill
2008, Contemporary Romance
Grand Central, $6.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0446616532
Part of a series

Grade: D+
Sensuality: Hot

A Cajun hero, a secret baby, and pirates - none of these are particularly original plot devices in romance novels, and all appear in Sandra Hillís Wild Jinx. However, my issues with this book come more out of her presentation of the story, rather than its plot.

Reporter Celine Arseneaux and Detective John LeDeux arenít strangers, but they find themselves reunited at the most unusual of settings - a Baton Rouge sex club - when heís there undercover and sheís investigating a story. The two have a history: She had a crush on him during high school, but he never paid attention to her. Then, after they shared a drunken one-night stand during her junior year of college, she got pregnant. She never told him about his five-year-old son and has no intention of doing so now.

That night the club is raided and both are arrested. Though the charges are eventually dropped, the criminals running the club know that John was a witness, so his police chief forces him to take a leave of absence. He decides to spend his free time with his family and Jinx Inc., a treasure hunting company, searching for pirate treasure in the bayou. Not quite coincidentally, Celine is assigned to cover their search for her newspaper while her son visits her grandfather. As she and John spend more time together, they begin to rediscover the spark that led them to bed six years earlier.

It must be said that Celine and John have chemistry. They flirt and tease incessantly and, while it can sometimes be more grating than amusing, it certainly sparks.

Hillís writing style may appeal to some, but to me it seemed unpolished. The story was also poorly paced, with too much time spent on insignificant scenes and conversations between minor characters, while breezing through parts between the hero and heroine that should have been more emotionally charged. Both Celine and John annoyed me at times; he seemed immature and not cop-like at all and too often she behaved like a child. I liked Celine much more when she was with her son. As for her son, how many five-year-olds, do you imagine, would ask for a "tittie magazine?" Comic relief, yes...any realm of reality...no.

To add to my problems, the author wrote much of the dialogue, especially that of John's crazy aunt, in an indecipherable Cajun dialect. And, while I'm on the subject of secondary characters, I should note that this book is part of a series and for this a first time reader the number of minor characters is overwhelming, with no bearing whatsoever on the central relationship. This may please returning readers, but for me, not so much.

Despite the trappings of the well-worn secret baby plot, the love relationship in Wild Jinx had some potential. Unfortunately, the writing - and all that went along with it - made it impossible for me to enjoy the story.

-- Jane Granville

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