by Sandra Brown
Book Review by Amy Coffin
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Tiel McCoy is finally taking a well-deserved vacation from her job as a television reporter in Dallas. As she is driving to New Mexico, she hears news of a local kidnapping on the car radio. She calls her boss Gully from the car. He fills her in on the details.

It seems that Sabra Dendy, 17 year-old daughter of the rich and famous Texan Russell Dendy has run away with her boyfriend. Earlier, the couple confided to Dendy that Sabra had been hiding her pregnancy for eight months. Dendy was furious and threatened to harm Ronnie and give the baby up for adoption. Fearing they couldn't be together, the teenagers made a run for it with a plan to head to Mexico. Dendy used all his media connections to claim that his daughter had been kidnapped.

Tiel wants in on the scoop and ends her vacation before it even starts. Gully tells her he got a tip that Ronnie's father lives way out in the boonies. Since Tiel is already in the middle of nowhere, she has a jump on all the reporters. She heads off in search of Mr. Davison.

Later, Tiel pulls into a gas station in a town so small it's not even on the map. She goes into the quickie mart to phone Gully for better directions. She hears a great commotion behind her. The quickie mart is being robbed at gunpoint. Tiel can't believe her eyes when she sees the bad guys. It's Ronnie and a very pregnant Sabra.

A couple of locals outside witness the robbery and run to tell the cops. Ronnie senses the robbery going sour. He demands the clerk lock the doors. There are several other customers in the store and now they are all hostages. Just when you think nothing else can go wrong, Sabra's water breaks. She confesses she's been in labor for a couple of hours, but didn't want to say anything.

So there you have it, folks. Two teenagers are holding up a store. One of the kids has a baby and needs a doctor ASAP. Both are willing to die for each other. There are hostages inside and several government agencies outside. If Tiel can make it through this, she'll have a worldwide exclusive to the biggest story of her life. Therein lies the question. Will everyone make it out alive?

Standoff is a thriller packed with excitement and suspense from the very beginning. It is short by novel terms (217 pages) so there's little room for build-up. Ms. Brown takes the reader straight into the drama, and it works.

I enjoyed this book because it offers a hefty dose of suspense with some humor mixed in as well. Ms. Brown does borrow from other newsworthy standoff stories, but that works just fine here.

There was one improbable event that I could help noticing, however. It seems that of the five sets of hostages, four are folks worthy of national news celebrity status. I really can't expand of that, because it would give away major portions of the story. Let's just say, it would take an extraordinary coincidence for these well-known folks to all be in the same rural quickie mart at once. Of course, without that event, we wouldn't have a story, would we?

Aside from that factor, Standoff is pretty exciting until the end. Sigh. No disrespect to Ms. Brown, but the end is kind of cheesy. Maybe I am an old fuddy duddy, but why do some authors, Ms. Brown included, feel the need to write the obligatory sex scene or two into every fictional thriller? To put a sex scene in this story was pretty silly. Fortunately for readers, it is a short one at the end, so it really doesn't take away from the plot.

Standoff makes a good airplane travel or beach book. I highly recommend the story to anyone who needs a little thrilling fiction in his or her life.

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