Desert Isle Keeper
Sex, Lies, and Online Dating
You’ve gotta love Gibson’s heroes – they are so realistic that you can reach out and touch them and they are simply such…men! Their combination of attitudes, communication skills, thoughts, and half attempts to see things from a woman’s perspective is very effective. Sex, Lies, and Online Dating delivers just this kind of hero at cross-purposes with an ever so vigilant heroine and proved to be a charming non-stop reading experience for me.
Lucy Rothschild, mystery writer extraordinaire, is conducting research for her new book by personally participating in some online dating. The men she meets on her Internet coffee dates are real losers, but what else can you expect with online names like bigdaddy182, klondikemike, and luvstick? But visiting with these repulsive womanizers provides her with plenty of fodder for creating her multiple murder victims and her fictional serial killer has already used erotic asphyxiation to kill three of them. Now she needs only one more victim to complete her book and hopes hardluvnman will provide the needed inspiration and then she is done.
Quinn McIntyre, a cop of sixteen years, is a detective in the Violent Crimes Division who lives for his job. After spending years in the narcotics division, undercover work comes easily to him and is proving especially useful now that “Breathless”, a serial killer who suffocates her victims, is on the loose. hardluvnman has had fifteen dates of which seven were sourced online and, since he is serving as bait, he knows that he may have to go far in feigning physical desire with suspects to get enough evidence for an arrest. He has no qualms lying to women and trapping a killer is just a part of his job, but he absolutely hates reciting the mushy lines to his pretend dates that others have written for him.
Waiting for hardluvnman in Starbucks, Lucy notices a man entering the coffee shop who looks like he has just blown in from a “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” convention. As he draws nearer and identifies himself as her date for the evening, Lucy is riveted by his extremely good looks and knows that there has to be something really wrong with him since no guy with such physical perfection trolls the chat rooms. He claims he is a plumber whose wife died six months ago, but as he talks about his deceased spouse, Lucy hears Aerosmith playing in her head and can’t help wondering why such a man would sink to poaching song lyrics for general conversation. Well, Lucy muses, the very nature of online dating rewards liars and that includes herself since she claims nursing as her profession.
Before their visit ends, Lucy demonstrates her lack of nursing skills when a man sitting nearby chokes and she watches helplessly while Quinn saves his life. Assuming he has pegged her as a liar, Lucy doesn’t expect to hear from hardluvnman again and is amazed to receive an invitation to dinner the following day. Reluctantly meeting him for a real date, Lucy is surprised at Quinn’s obvious desire to continue seeing her and can’t decide if she feels pleased by his actions or stalked. When he requests yet another date in two days, hope begins to flutter somewhere inside her – could he possibly be one of those very few normal men who search the Internet for companionship? His pursuit certainly seems sincere and coupled with the fact that he has not pushed for a physical relationship is flattering in the extreme.
The transmitter Quinn wears taped to his back anytime he is with Lucy provides police with enough evidence to name her as the prime suspect in the “Breathless” investigation. It is clearly established that Lucy has met or communicated with all three victims within days of their death and Quinn can now personally attest that she is a habitual liar as well. Her bitterness towards men in general and her insights into criminal behavior that she freely shares with Quinn are all the more damning and serve to place her front and center of the investigation. But dangerous woman or not, Quinn is extremely attracted to Lucy and sometimes forgets when around her that he is just doing his job. Pushing the physical aspect of their pretend relationship in the name of solving the crime is no hardship either and he couldn’t care less that the police hear every word, sigh, and moan.
I am not a fan of storylines wherein the leads lie about their actual identity, but the tension created in this instance made the interaction between Quinn and Lucy all the more delectable. Although I have already touched on Quinn’s character indirectly, it is down-to-earth Lucy who touched my heart and drew me to turn the page. The suspense element proves entertaining and successfully propels the story forward, but can’t be classified as deep or intense for those who want a strong suspense element in your romance.
Of all the secondary characters, the most memorable is Quinn’s dog Millie – her daily care and training round out Quinn’s character quite effectively. Clare, one of Lucy’s tight group of friends, will be featured in Gibson’s next book, and most of the epilogue is devoted to her. An excerpt is included in the back and, by the way, Clare is a romance writer.
Sex, Lies, and Online Dating is a light yet moving story in true Gibson style with nary a dull moment as I laughed, sighed, and gasped in indignation. Part of my enjoyment stemmed from the anticipation of Quinn’s comeuppance and I was not disappointed. Rachel Gibson is one author I can rely on to hit the right blend of humor, characterization, and sexiness with pure class.