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Never Say Never    by Geralyn Dawson order for
Never Say Never
by Geralyn Dawson
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Celebrity photographer Torie Bradshaw has always had a thing for James Bond movies. Imagine her surprise and delight when an honest to goodness CIA agent steps in to save the day as she's pursued by a pack of bloodthirsty killers intent on retrieving incriminating photos. Matt Callahan owes General Lincoln Bradshaw a favour or two and agreeing to rescue his daughter from an unsuitable boyfriend is no hardship: he's always admired Dr. Helen Bradshaw for her brains, beauty and kindness. But once Matt learns he's risked life and limb for Helen's Evil Twin Torie, all bets are off. He has nothing but disdain for the paparazzi, having been caught in their long distance telephoto lenses a time or two himself. Nor is Torie impressed when agent Double-Oh-Yeah turns into Double-O-Judgemental - and then really loses his James Bond cool when she accidentally shoots him during their hair-raising escape.

Matt's CIA career is effectively ruined thanks to That Damned Woman. Unwilling to accept a desk job at Langley, he heads home to Texas to decide if he's ready to settle down and take up the reins as vintner at his Four Brothers Winery - or - if that fails, get a little peace and quiet at his secluded lake house. But as a man born and bred in Brazos Bend, he should have known his arrival wouldn't remain a secret for long. Worse, Torie Bradshaw shows up with a frantic request that he help her identify the stalker who's been making her life hell. Matt's first reaction is to slam the door in Torie's gorgeous face, but he has never been able to say no to a damsel in distress. And he'd deny, even under torture, that he's been unable to get her out of his mind. Torie, too, is loathe to admit that her Bond Guy is driving her to distraction. Soon the unlikely pair is working - and playing - hard, trying to zero in on Torie's tormentor before it's too late.

Dawson takes two very appealing leads and shakes and stirs them up to create another winner of a story in Never Say Never, the second instalment in her Holy Terrors of Brazos Bend series. Matt and Torie's chemistry sizzles from the moment they meet and is made all the more enjoyable because of Torie's James Bond fantasies, which Dawson uses to wonderful effect throughout and in particular in the poignant conclusion. She further enriches the story by including more back-story explaining the Callahan brothers' hatred of their manipulative father Branch, whose quest for forgiveness only widens their rift. Dynamic characterizations, crackling and often-funny dialogue, a hot romance, and a nice touch of suspense make Never Say Never a top contender for your October reading list.

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