Picks and Pans Review: Heartbreaker

updated 07/24/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/24/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Julie Garwood

Ah, romance! Does it have to be so clichéd? It does, apparently, if you are Garwood (Ransom), a bestselling author of historical melodramas. In her first contemporary outing, she offers the tale of a stunningly beautiful woman who becomes the target of a stalker. As a romantic character, Laurant Madden's main attributes are her looks, her ineffectual spunkiness and her need to be rescued, in this case, by an Adonis-like FBI agent named Nick. Hoping to goad the psycho into revealing himself, the damsel and her protector play house and pretend to be in love. But their proximity (her long legs! his manly gun!) quickly turns the game into something serious. An ex-model schooled by nuns, Laurant is the perfect Madonna-whore figure for Nick, who gallantly worries that his desire degrades her. These retro conceits may work in earlier settings, but in the present, Laurant seems as human—and as appealing—as a Stepford Wife. (Pocket, $24.95)

Bottom Line: Painfully trite

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