As if a recent breakup, scrounging for rent money, and lusting after designer shoes weren’t enough to make graduate student Melanie Prescott’s life challenging, she’s suddenly practically living The Da Vinci Code.  A mysterious stranger is sending obscure codes and clues her way and she soon discovers she has to solve them in order to stay alive.  With stakes like that, her dissertation on “the derivation and primary characteristics of codes and ciphers used by prevailing nations during wartime” is looking a little less important than it was yesterday.  Right now she’s just worrying about living to see tomorrow.  The only bright spot in the whole freakish nightmare is Matthew Stryker, the six-foot tall, dark, and handsome stranger who’s determined to protect her.  Well, that and the millions of dollars that will be her reward if she survives this deadly game.  And she’d better survive.  Because that’s a heck of a lot of money to be able to spend on shoes and handbags and sunglasses and dress, and, well, it’s hard to be fashionable when you’re dead.

I’m not much of a chick lit fan, probably because I’m the furthest thing from a fashionista you could possibly imagine (I’m perfectly happy in picking up a sundress at K-Mart, thank you very much).  This book promised to be more than relationship angst and shoe shopping, though, so I decided to give it a shot, and was I ever rewarded!  Mel is a fabulous character, one I’d love to have a drink with while discussing history (and a shared passion for shoes).  To me, she was a chick lit heroine with down-to-earth roots and sensibilities.  And as for Stryker, well, I have a thing for military heroes (even if they’re out of the service) and he fit all my expectations for the honorable, hot Marine to a tee.  I highly recommend picking up this book…it’s a wild rollercoaster of action, with the added bonus of a believable budding relationship between Melanie and Stryker.  You’ll use your brain on this one, while tripping through some of Manhattan’s most delectable shopping venues.

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