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Public Displays of Affection    by Susan Donovan order for
Public Displays of Affection
by Susan Donovan
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Thirteen years have passed since Charlotte Tasker allowed her repressed libido to overrule her good sense and straight-laced upbringing. She's never forgotten the three glorious hours she spent in the arms of a man who pushed all her emotional buttons. Not even marriage and motherhood banish her memories of a dark, sensual and nameless stranger. She's never told anyone about that brief, wild interlude - especially not Kurt, her safe and straight-laced husband. After Kurt's sudden death, and despite her mind-numbing schedule raising two kids and running her own business, Charlotte finds herself thinking about her mystery man with increasing frequency. He's the star of her dreams and the main character in her erotic poetry. She begins to wonder if he truly existed, and convinces herself that at this point in her life, a fantasy man is all he'll ever be.

DEA agent Joe Bellacera isn't wild about being forced to go to ground in out-of-the-way Minton, Ohio. But he has little choice, since a ruthless drug lord's put a million-dollar price tag on his head. Joe figures he can handle masquerading as a struggling and reclusive writer until it's time for him to testify. What he can't handle is discovering that his neighbour is none other than the 'mystery woman' he's been unable to forget for the past thirteen years. After she drove off in her spiffy little Miata, he moved heaven and earth to find her again, but to no avail. Now she's here, right under his nose at the worst possible time in his life. Joe knows he has no right to put Charlotte and her kids at risk. But he also believes in love at first sight, in fate and second chances. This time around, he has no intention of letting Charlotte Tasker get away from him.

Donovan has created another well written, absorbing and thoroughly enjoyable tale. Charlotte and Joe are both great characters brought together again by fate. Throw in precocious kids, a big loveable mutt, well-meaning neighbours, nasty hit men, Charlotte's hilarious erotic poetry, and love scenes spicy enough to fog up your reading glasses, and you've got the perfect formula for a few hours of wonderful entertainment. Public Displays of Affection will have you believing that fate does play a part in our lives -- and in happy endings.

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