by Sandra Brown
Book Review by Amy Coffin
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Barrie Travis is in over her head this time. As a reported for WVUE in Washington DC, she's covered her share of intriguing stories. When Barrie receives a call from Vanessa Merritt, she thinks she's hit the big time.

Vanessa Merritt is the wife of David Merritt, President of the United States. Vanessa has been in seclusion for a while, mourning the SIDS death of her son, Robert Rushton Merritt. Barrie is surprised when the First Lady asks to have lunch with her.

On the restaurant terrace, Vanessa appears to be shaken. She's an absolute wreck. Barrie does her best to console the woman, but Vanessa is giving off strange signals. Her words are even more confusing. "You don't understand. Nobody does. There's no one I can tell. Not even my father. Oh, God, I don't know what to do!"

Just as quickly as she comes apart, Vanessa puts herself back together again and abruptly departs, leaving Barrie with a ton of questions and a fairly sizeable doubt regarding SIDS to be the cause of death of the President's son. Judging from Vanessa's actions and words, Barrie wonders if the President of the United States could possibly be hiding something from the American public.

Barrie returns to her station believing she is on to the biggest story of her life. She receives little support from her no-good sexist boss. She decides that she needs to talk to Gary Bondurant, former confidant of the President who left DC amidst stories that he had an affair with Vanessa. Gary is rumored to have a ranch in Wyoming, so Barrie decides to find him herself, without the support of her boss.

What Barrie doesn't realize is that there is more to this story than what's seen on the surface and she is onto something. Unfortunately, many of her hunches are correct. The President of the United States is not the man he appears to be. He has a lot of secretsand many ways to prevent others from discovering this fact.

The mastermind of many of these diversions is Spencer "Spence" Martin. He is David Merritt's true right-hand man. His work is top-secret, and rarely ethical. Anybody who comes too close to finding the truth must face Spence's wrath, and may pay with his life.

This is where Barrie is treading and she doesn't realize it. Like a true reporter, she won't give up until she breaks the story. However, once she finds the story, will she be alive to tell it? What's the big secret in David Merritt's life? Could it be so terrible that the President of the United States is willing to have Barrie killed in order to protect his lies? The answers can be found in Sandra Brown's best-selling novel, Exclusive.

If you like what I have written so far, then I recommend you read this book. The rest of my review will discuss elements of the book that I didn't like. Keep in mind that this is only my opinion. Just because I didn't love the book doesn't mean you won't.

Ms. Brown's books are hit and miss with me. After reading Exclusive, I am more inclined to throw it in the "miss" pile. Why? I didn't care for the character of Barrie Travis. Heck, I pretty much didn't care for any of the characters. They had the depth of those cardboard cutouts that are used as stand-ins to make a crowd when filming for movies and television. In the last decade, I have read hundreds books. This is the first time I can remember actually disliking the main character enough that I didn't care what happened to him or her. In Exclusive, Barrie came off as a bumbling reporter who couldn't get a break. I didn't not see intelligent, gutsy woman I felt the author was trying to create. Nope, Barrie was a big snore.

Also present in this story were the gratuitous sex scenes. They weren't very exciting, as I really didn't care about the characters that were involved in the first place. I find these scenes to be pretty silly in suspense novels anyway. They're so ill-timed. I can assure you, if I am ever running for my life, I won't be stopping to get a little lovin', if you get my drift.

Overall, this book rates an average on the patented "Amy Coffin suspense meter." There's enough happening in the story to keep your attention, but there no moments when I felt I simply couldn't put the book down. I'll recommend Exclusive to my loyal 2.5 visitors, but not as a must-read. Rather, more like a vacation read or during a point when you need to read something that doesn't take a lot of thought.
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Sandra Brown Books Reviewed by TheBookHaven.net


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