I miss Lowell’s historical romances. Though I enjoy her contemporaries well enough, they seem to lack that special something that made her historicals so memorable. But she isn’t writing historicals anymore, which means I’ll take what I can get, and as far as that goes, Running Scared makes for a pretty good read. It’s loosely connected to Moving Target and the Donovan family books, although it stands nicely on its own. Those familiar with these other books will enjoy seeing a few familiar characters.
Risa Sheridan has literally worked her way up from the gutter to become a renowned curator for the Golden Fleece, a famous entertainment center in Las Vegas owned by Shane Tannahil. Risa’s special feel for gold artifacts has built up quite a collection for her boss. But there’s a problem – Shane wants something spectacular to exhibit and Risa is running low on time trying to discover the perfect display.
Shane’s a tough boss who never gets involved with his employees. So what if the tension between him and Risa is so thick everyone else can sense it? She’s a damn good curator and he doesn’t want to lose a great employee. He is passionate about rare gold artifacts and despises the looters and scavengers of ancient cultures. At the same time, he isn’t picky about the legal provenance of the items in his collection, which has caused problems for him in the past. It’s about to create problems for his future.
And Shane isn’t the most popular casino owner on the Vegas strip. Between his dealings for gold, his powerful enemies, and Risa’s shady past, there’s bound to be trouble. After her old friend Cherelle stumbles onto some ancient gold everyone seems to want, Risa’s career and life are in danger.
The tie-in between the ancient gold, Cherelle, and the Las Vegas casinos is complex and somewhat convoluted. Risa and Shane are definitely among enemies and after Risa’s life is threatened, their attraction to each other heats up. Shane is a most alpha male and wants to keep Risa out of trouble, but she’s no shrinking violet and isn’t afraid of doing what needs to be done.
Risa and Shane make for a great couple, and when they’re on center stage, I was a rapt audience. But Lowell adds in quite a few secondary characters and I found out more about Cherelle and her nasty buddies tha I really wanted or needed to know, particularly as a lot of narrative comes from their point of view. This took time away from Risa and Shane, who were far more interesting. Then there’s the gold with a curse attached to it, but Risa and Shane are somehow immune. The reason why is never explained, and the “cursed” premise itself lays inert after Risa and Shane’s storyline intersects with the gold. There are also slight paranormal overtones which reminded me of Erik and Serena’s story (Moving Target), but they were only tantalizing teasers and never the focus of the book. As I like paranormal elements, I felt slighted in that area.
That said, however, Shane and Risa’s relationship is absorbing and the plot’s final resolution is a nail-biter. You may not want to run to the store to pick up your copy of Running Scared, but if you enjoy Lowell and the conflicts she creates for her romantic pairings, you’ll want to check this one out.