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Friday, February 18, 2011

The Wild Card by Rhonda Nelson

The Wild Card by Rhonda Nelson
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (217 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Former ranger Seth McCutcheon is a man of his word. Leave the military at the request of his dying mother? Check. Join the super-elite Ranger Security? Definitely. Provide a security detail at a high-society wedding? Hell, why not?

Go undercover as the wedding planner's boyfriend? Uhh, well….

But once Seth sets eyes on sexy Penelope Hart, he knows he's a goner. If Penelope wants a fake fling, he's her man. Especially if it comes with all the sensual benefits.

But they can't spend all their time in bed, as much as they'd like to. Somebody is threatening to sabotage the ceremony. If Seth doesn't discover the culprit, Penelope's business will be ruined.

Seth is going to need all the luck he can get if he's going to save the day and get the girl. Then again, they don't call him Wild Card for nothing….

Mix a man with integrity and a passion for commitment with a woman who makes running from the “C” word an art form and a reader is in for a fun read.

I have to give Ms. Nelson credit. The first chapter gave me the sniffles and it had a stranglehold on my heartstrings. It created an instantaneous need to find out what happens to the hero and I was, and there’s that word again committed, to finding out what happens to Seth McCutcheon. How is that pronounced anyway?

Seth is a decent man and life just put a demand upon him that would, for any other person, inspire resentment and resistance. The difference is who exacted the promise from him and the relationship that they had that prompted it in the first place. As a character, Seth commands respect from his fellow secondary characters and that holds true for this reader as well. What a great guy. On an aside, the guy pictured on the cover captured his personality quite well. See that sparkle of mischief? Seth has a great sense of humor and the author had him show it to delicious perfection many times during the course of the tale. I like a man who can make me laugh and Seth succeeded with me and the heroine.

The heroine, Penelope Hart, is a go getter, focused, fun and has a personal rule she follows that is guaranteed to protect her heart. No man is going to get the better of her because she knows there are no better men out there; she’s seen the proof. I personally think that what she did see were two dysfunctional people finding other dysfunctional people and she never had a healthy viewpoint to base her beliefs for marriage on. She gets a delightful and saucy wakeup call during this book and I had fun watching her fall.

The whole premise and plot revolves around a wedding that is in jeopardy from an unknown party. I don’t think the story really gave a reader enough information to try to figure it out like a true mystery as to who was the culprit. As long as the hero and heroine found what they needed, then it was fine. I let them do their jobs. I believe it is inferred that Penelope, who was best friends with the bride to be, had the inside track so the author left it up to her and Seth to solve the puzzle. I liked the conundrum of their relationship better anyway.

One of the things I appreciated about this book was the set up. The story came first and once the groundwork was laid down, then their physical hot hijinks revved up. It made what they did when they did it so much more powerful and meaningful. For me, one of the most romantic and telling scenes between the heroine and hero was down by the dock. I think the author did a great job of describing everything to the point I could visualize it. Great dialogue, emotions and reactions made it stand out for me.

Even though the romance was whirlwind, Ms. Nelson did a good job of making me believe that their love, although fast developed, could and would weather the test of time. The characters were well aware of their faults, of what they are looking for in life and have no fantasy illusions. It’s that clarity that lends weight to a believable happily ever after. And the last chapter had me giggling. The irony did not escape me and I thought it a clever move by the author.

The Wild Card is good solid fun and I had a great time watching Seth and Penelope fall in love. In fact I’m still snickering about how Seth found one of the clues to the mystery. I don’t believe I have ever heard of evidence being gathered in such a way – very naughty. And I loved it. I absolutely recommend reading The Wild Card because it is totally entertaining from beginning to end and the romance is well done.