Lori Borrill
November 2008, Series Romance
Harl Blaze #430, $4.99, 212 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373794347

Grade: D
Sensuality: Hot

Unleashed begins with a sex scene that is supposed to be hot and torrid, but to me was more funny than anything else. Next comes a huge infodump, then things are off and running. Literally. It’s been a long time since I read a Blaze title, but if this is an example of the line, it will probably be a long time before I read another one.

Jessie Beane is a purse designer – a starving purse designer who is about at the end of her financial tether. Then one of her purses shows up in a photo in People magazine and it looks like she is going to be the next Kate Spade. So what does Jessie do? She goes off to a bar, picks up a guy and has wild monkey sex with him. Said guy is Rick Marshall, a police detective who was at the bar for some no strings bed boogie, to salve his broken heart over the death of his wife. Jessie is more than satisfied with his performance and while Rick snoozes Jessie calls her roommate to brag about his hotness, but as soon as she hangs up, she gets a call from her sleazy ex-husband Wade. Wade is an ex-con who has tracked her down, and seen the spread in People. Scenting money, he insists he didn’t sign their divorce papers, but he will as soon as he gets half of Jessie's soon to be fortune.

All right. Wouldn’t you, faced with incipient blackmail from a sleazy ex-husband and with a detective sleeping next to you, wake the detective up, tell him what’s happened and ask his advice? Of course you would. But Jessie in true TSTL character muses that she can Trust No One and bolts to her apartment only to discover that Wade has stolen some of her jewelry and her father’s Army medals.

Meanwhile Rick wakes up with visions of Jessie dancing in his head. When his partner comes over to tell him that the chief has been calling him, Rick discovers that his cell phone, his keys and his car (with a laptop that’s a critical piece of evidence in the case they are working on) is missing. Hmm, now who stayed over last night and is missing this morning?

So Rick goes over to Jessie’s place where she acts all snippy and flippant, but he’s run her fingerprints and knows all about her and Wade. They find out that some of the jewelry Wade stole is in a pawnshop in Reno, so off they go. Do they solve the case? Yes. Does Wade get what's coming to him? Indeed. Do Rick and Jessie have sex? Lots of times. Do they fall in love? Umm hmm. Did I care? Pbbht!!

Frankly, Jessie and Rick were boring as all get out. She was flippant, he was dour and their relationship can be summed up like this: “She (He) makes me crazy, but she (he) is so damned hot!” Then they have sex. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

The secondary characters were caricatures, and the characters bounced from place to place so fast, I thought at times they were teleporting. Frankly, I got tired. If only Rick and Jessie had been the least bit likeable, I know I would have enjoyed this book more – it certainly was fast moving - but they didn’t have a particle of charm between them.

Unleashed is a short book which doesn’t allow for much character development, but I have read my share of short romances that succeeded in developing likeable and rounded characters and that told a story that made me want it to go on and on. When it came to this book, I just wanted it to end.

-- Ellen Micheletti

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