Review: Star-Spangled Bride by Iris Johansen

Star-Spangled Bride: A Loveswept Classic Contemporary Romance

May Contain Spoilers


While surfing the virtual shelves of the library, I came across this blast from the past.  Many moons ago, I devoured Loveswept romances like candy.  Some of my favorite series romance authors were published under this line; Janet Evanovich, Saundra Brown, Jennifer Crusie (I will NOT admit how much I paid for a few of her out of print  titles before they were available digitally), Kay Hooper.  I get giddy just thinking about how much I loved discovering these authors.  One of my favorite reads were Iris Johansen’s Sedikhan books.  I loved how the characters popped up throughout the books, and this was one of the first times I read books that had connecting characters.  I was only able to gobble a few of these up before I got distracted from my out of print book hunt (which is SO much easier now thanks to Google, Amazon, and eBay!)  When I saw that Star-Spangled Bride had been reissued in digital, and that it was available for check out, I snapped it up and ate it up.

Star-Spangled Bride is a fun read.  Starting with Gabe’s daring rescue, Ronnie puts her life on the line to pay back a debt she’s carried for the last ten years.  Gabe saved her when she was a child, and now she’s going to return the favor.  After freeing him from the violent terrorists who have been holding him hostage, she sees him to the safety of the pre-arranged pick up point, with every intention of seeing him board the rescue chopper and then drive away into the desert night.  When Gabe complicates things for her, she finds herself in hot water.  Her entire life, Ronnie has been skating the edge, living on the edge with her opportunist father, Evan.  She doesn’t have a valid US passport, and when it’s discovered that she’s been using a forged one,  and that she has a criminal record, she’s in deep trouble.  The State Department threatens to take her into custody if she ever falls under their jurisdiction, so it’s a good thing the small kingdom of Sedikhan has declined to turn her over to their custody.  Now her greatest dream is to become a legal citizen of the US and to finally put her shady past behind her.

That kind of simplifies the plot, but trust me – you’ll want to dig into the meat of the story for yourself.  I loved the action sequences as Ronnie outsmarts the terrorists and liberates Gabe from their possession.  I did have to buy into the rest of the book, but it wasn’t hard to believe that Gabe would be so grateful to Ronnie for saving him that he would suggest they get married to see if they can get her her heart’s desire.  While the gesture backfires and the agent in charge of green lighting her paperwork tells her under no uncertain terms that he’ll have her hide for her past  actions, you can’t but hope that the bureaucrat will change his mind.  I had forgiven Ronnie for any past transgressions; it’s not like she had any choice in the matter.  With her father calling the shots, Ronnie’s life was one dangerous misadventure after another.  Her father was emotionally distant and only kept her around to assist with his big schemes to pull a huge job and then retire somewhere out of the range of gunfire.  It never happened, and with no positive role models, Ronnie idolized Gabe and started following in his footsteps.  Now a photojournalist, she wants to do something noble – oh, and winning the Emmy would be awesome, too.

I was a little afraid that the book would feel old, but this one held up well (original publication year was 1993).  The instalove was only slightly problematic, and it didn’t take long before I was caught hook, line, and sinker.  I wish there has been a little more backstory on Gabe, because I didn’t feel his character was fully fleshed out.  I did like Ronnie a lot.  She was forced to become self-sufficient and fearless at a very young age, and only her high moral code, which she obviously did not learn from her dirt-bag of a father, kept her from becoming cold and  heartless. 

Star-Spangled Bride is a very fast read, and while it requires the suspension of belief, it’s also a fun read.  Now I can only hope that the library acquires more of Johansen’s backlist, because they only have two other titles her Loveswept days, and these are like crack.

Grade:  B/B-

Review copy provided by my local library

From Amazon:

In this exhilarating novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen, a woman accustomed to living dangerously must rescue the man she’s never forgotten.

When cable news mogul Gabe Faulkner is kidnapped by an overseas terrorist group, the last thing he expects is to be rescued by a beautiful woman. Photojournalist Ronnie Dalton claims she risked her neck only to win an Emmy, but Gabe senses there’s more to the story. And though he’s known her for only a few hours, he can’t deny the sizzling chemistry between them—or his overwhelming desire to protect her. 

Ronnie doesn’t expect Gabe to remember her. She was just a teenager when he saved her life. Now it is Ronnie’s chance to return the favor. Once she accomplishes her mission, she’ll walk away. But when Gabe throws Ronnie onto his getaway helicopter, he inadvertently puts her back in harm’s way. For as soon as they touch down in the United States, she’s going to be deported, or worse . . . unless she marries an American citizen. Gabe is up for the ruse. But he also seems to have other ideas . . . ideas that include thoroughly seducing her.

Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from these Loveswept titles: Mistletoe and Magic, Claimed, and After the Kiss.

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