Extreme Exposure
Grade : C

Regretfully, this one gets off to a bad start. And, undeniably, it features one of the most atrociously sappy epilogues I’ve had the displeasure to come across since MJP’s The Spiral Path. Still, somewhere in here there’s a decent book you just might find worth the pain you have to endure to find it.

The bad beginning consists of a disgustingly cutesy bar scene. Heroine Kara McMillan is an investigative reporter and columnist whose focus is on the environment. Persuaded to join a friend at a Denver meat market, single mom Kara is surprised to run into Colorado Senator Reece Sheridan, a major babe who’s also a good guy on environmental issues. Within a few short pages, Kara has at least one too many Margaritas and starts spouting stuff like this:

“So, tell me, Senator, how do men really feel about going down on women?”

“Do women really taste like tuna?” (In the words of Dave Barry, I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.)

“Is it fair that some men expect a woman to give them head and they won’t return the favor?” (Well, no, but that’s beside the point.)

Thankfully, things pick up from there when a corporate whistleblower contacts Kara with some explosive information about a powerful Colorado company whose illegal polluting is putting at risk the health of thousands of people (think Erin Brockovich). At that point, with that “adorable” bar scene happily fading into memory, Extreme Exposure then turns into a pretty good suspense story, with Kara and Reece taking tentative steps towards a relationship, Kara receiving mysterious death threats and coping with trials and tribulations at the paper, and Reece also doing the latter in the Senate.

Still, even though things move along fairly swimmingly, there are a few problems. Kara, for one, is a bit too plucky when things start looking grim on the death threat front. Hey, call me crazy but the way I see it a woman with a pre-school age son who refuses to take sensible precautions is stupid, not – as Kara insists – letting the bad guy win. Equally problematic is the way the author telegraphs her intentions a bit too clearly. Quite frankly, it would be hard to imagine a reader who wouldn’t pick up some pretty strong signals about where the plot is going by the time she’s half-way through. Add in the e-e-e-v-i-l ex (you know, the kind it’s hard to imagine anybody hooking up with in the first place) and, it has to be admitted, “subtle” is a word that simply never applies to this book.

And then there’s that epilogue. Saccharine, sappy, corny – call it what you will, it ain’t pretty, people, and it does a serious disservice to what could have been a better book – especially since Kara is basically a likable heroine and Reece an appealing hero.

So, is a book that starts and ends at a low point worth reading? The answer for romantic suspense readers on the lookout for new authors is a tentative “yes”, since there’s enough here to convince me that Pamela Clare can do better – and less sugar, fewer cutesy-poo antics, and a plot with a few “surprises” that actually are would surely be a good start.

Reviewed by Sandy Coleman

Grade: C

Book Type: Romantic Suspense

Sensuality: Hot

Review Date : July 21, 2005

Publication Date: 2005/08

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Recent Comments …

  1. I’ve not read The Burnout, but I’ve read other Sophie Kinsella’s books and they are usually hilarious rather than angsty…

Sandy Coleman

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