Elizabeth Perkins is young, beautiful, and Missouri Senator Howard Perkins's second wife. Her stepchildren are older than she is, and they don't like her. Neither do the voters, a fact that is hurting her husband's reelection campaign. Enter political strategist James Garth. His plan to make Elizabeth more appealing to voters (wear a "quieter" wardrobe, adopt a puppy from the pound) is a success, helped, ironically, by news reports of her husband's infidelities. Falling in love with his client was not part of Garth's plan, and word of their affair has repercussions neither dreamed of when the senator is found dead under very suspicious circumstances. An exciting and sometimes humorous plot, interesting characters, and a hot romance combine to make this a delightful story. Readers who enjoyed Robards's last romantic adventure (Heartbreakers, Delacorte, 1997) or the romance and political intrigue of Sandra Brown's Exclusive (Warner, 1996) will love this. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/97.]Elizabeth Mellett, Brookline Lib., Mass.
A disappointing mystery-romance the basic ingredients are all there, but they never gel from the prolific Robards (Heartbreaker, 1997, etc.). Veronica Honneker is the "gorgeous second wife" (GSW) of multimillionaire Mississippi lawmaker Lewis Honneker IV, and just a little more than half his age. She's a redhead with a body to "stop traffic," usually to be seen with a lot of real diamonds resting tastefully about her firm neck; and she is, to boot, the jezebel the senator married when he divorced his older and much admired first wife, whose neck and thighs offered no competition. The voters, though, can't stand Ronnie; in the polls she's the senator's biggest negative. And as "His Honor" runs for reelection, it's Tom Quinlan's job to turn her into a very nice, nonthreatening spouse that soccer moms will warm to. What Tom doesn't expect are the romance-novel sparks that ignite when the two of them are together. And he hasn't counted on Ronnie's being a poor-little-rich-girl whose husband can't keep his pants zipped. Appearances aside, His Honor hasn't been faithful to his trophy wife since he married her, and Ronnie hasn't shared his bed for a year. She thought she wanted money, clothes, and celebrity, having suffered through a troubled childhood, but none of those, she discovers, make any sense withoutyes, love. Ronnie is just about to ask for a divorce in order to marry Tom (a hunky divorced dad) when someone murders the senator. With motive, means, and lousy reputation, Ronnie is the prime suspect. Just as she's about to be arrested, however, a spirited ex-prostitute seeks her out with information about the killer's identity. Together, the two women eventually dispose of the culpritand are able to claim their men. A dull effort from Robards, with some of her trademark steamy sex but few thrills and not much mystery or humor.