I have a head cold. Hence, this.

When I have been turned into a Reluctant Phlegm Monster, I tend to reach for comfort reading, usually romances or mysteries.
So yesterday I binge-read this:

Is he doing that “Thbbbt” noise you do to make babies laugh? And if so, why is she looking so ecstatic about it? These people are weird.

Title: Ghost of a Chance
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Harlequin Temptation
Published: November 1984 
Reasons I might actually remember this one:  The constant references to the azure-eyed, fever-ridden, scarred hero being like a wounded lion are now permanently ingrained on my memory. In fact, since my own husband has a Man Cold to go along with my own more prosaic flu, I am thinking of quoting those bits at him to see how he reacts.

Ah, the 80s. Jeans were high; standards, apparently, low. Here’s a snippet from a conversation about a woman who was strangled by her husband (her ghost is the transparent lady on the bottom of the cover); for full impact, you have to know that Anne, the heroine, has just described herself as assertive, so Julian’s comment on the ghost reads as…well, a threat, really.

“That’s right,” Prue nodded pleasantly. “Legend has it, that little lady had a mind of her own and the guts to defy her husband. That took some doing back then.” 

It was Julian’s turn to smile with cool arrogance. “Let’s not forget  what happened to her when she finally overasserted herself.”

Let’s not get uppity, ladies, or the hero might just strangle you.

So, okay, there’s that. There’s also a sort of “he seduces her, and she wants him, but she didn’t actually want to have sex” thing going on that possibly read as passionate and romantic in 1984 but gave me the creeps yesterday.

He couldn’t be sure if it was a cry of protest or resignation or desire. He only knew he liked the sound of his name on her lips. With a quick, stripping action he pulled the jeans down over her rounded hips, heedless of her fingers as she struggled to slow him.

They’re going undercover (no pun intended) to catch a ring of thieves who’ve been pretending to be psychic investigators, and that improbable sounding plotline is why I picked the book up in the first place. There’s an actual ghost, too, which is either a bonus or an annoyance depending on how crabby you are when you have a headcold. (Confession: it irritated the hell out of me, but I don’t think I can honestly blame the ghost for that.)

Also there’s a scene when they argue about who he’s going undercover as (he wants to pose as her fiance; she argues for “insane nephew who’s been kept in the basement”) that I found amusing; it was the set-up for this exchange, after the housekeeper has caught them in bed together:

“Lucky we thought of the fiance pose for me, hmmm? It would have been a little difficult to explain that you were in bed with the insane nephew formerly housed in the basement.”

Heh. 

 The entire time I read this, I was plagued with the sense that I’d read it before, a long time ago. I don’t know if I actually did, or read some other fraudulent-ghost-hunters thing, or if deja vu is just another cold symptom.

Active Ingredients:
Bad/Shallow Woman Wants Hero
Hero is Secret Agent Guy (I think “former CIA” or something in this case)
Assertive Female
Ghost Hunters/Psychics
Assumed Identities
Together They Fight Crime
Hero Unconvinced No Means No

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