Unmasking Kelsey (1988, 2012) by Kay Hooper was another audio book I picked up to amuse myself on my commute to work. Now, I don't have grand expectations when it comes to random romance novels--especially unknown ones. And yet, I was still met with severe disappointment. Part of the problem was that they tricked me with the cover art! I know the saying, but after a quick glance:
I naively thought Unmasking Kelsey was a new, gripping, suspense/mystery/romance. Little did I know that what I was about to listen to was this dated 1988 novel.
Sigh, not something I would voluntarily choose to read. I will give you a quick summary of the plot, which will negate the need for me to explain why I disliked this one. Kelsey (some kind of federal agent of an unnamed "super secret" agency) shows up in a small town in the South because they got an anonymous phone call saying "they have my sister." Their response to this is to send one man down to a farmhouse that grows and sells peaches where four sisters live: Elizabeth, Joe, Amy, and Meg (familiar, I know, but they have nothing in common with the real Little Women). Elizabeth, the eldest, has selflessly raised her younger sisters since her parent's death when she was sixteen.
Amy is the sweet one, Meg is the rebellious one, and Joe is the kidnapped one. It turns out that the town is primarily supported by a plant with a defense contract to produce conventional weapons for the military. But it all went wrong when the General in charge started skimming weapons off the top to sell to the highest bidder. And then somehow a nuclear weapon got in the mix. The local business guy (and competing, but not really, love interest for Elizabeth's affections) starts getting suspicious. For an unexplained reason, he complains to Joe about his suspicions. Then Joe went out to see what was going on and she was taken as a hostage. Elizabeth knows that her sister is unharmed and being held captive, and her response is to do...nothing? Apparently the General's crazy and he has the nuke pointed at the small picture-perfect town.
Anyway, Kelsey shows up at the farmhouse in order to fall in love with
Elizabeth, and, I guess, figure out what the phone call was all about. Kelsey brings in some kind of special task force made up of happily married couples--I assume previous heros and heroines of Hooper's novels. Elizabeth runs to the plant to make herself a hostage, find her sister, tell her what's happening, and help from the inside. In the end, [SPOILER] everyone is fine, the nuke is not detonated, and Elizabeth and Kelsey get engaged.
Besides a beyond ridiculous plot that could easily be defused with someone just calling the military or the FBI, there was no romance to speak of. Kelsey showed up at the farmhouse and says things like, "By the end of the week, you're going to end up in my bed." And "You belong to me" before they even know each other. If my sister were missing, I'd prefer someone who's a little more focused on finding her than hitting on me. They fell in love so fast and for no reason, and then their precious love was tried because Kelsey had pretended to be so many different people for work that he didn't know himself. Somehow he had to figure it out so he could be with the woman who belonged to him. And that's it. I'm no expert on romances, but the 80's seem like a particularly bad decade. I don't understand why a publishing company would resurrect something so bad when there are surely new books coming out now that are better. I guess they knew they had to play tricks with the cover. For shame.