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When fashion plate and former math major Melanie Prescott receives a coded note from a mysterious stranger on the same day she gets a pair of to-die-for Givenchy pumps from her ex-boyfriend, the most excitement she’s expecting from the day is a little ex drama and some shopping. She has no idea she’s about to be plunged into a race for her life.

USA Today bestselling author Julie Kenner wastes no time in kicking off the action in the premier book in Downtown Press’ new Naughty Girls series, though self-proclaimed “math geek” and Givenchy heroine Melanie isn’t exactly what I’d call a naughty girl. If anything, she’s actually on the tame side.

But that doesn’t stop Melanie from hooking up with her ex, dodging an assassin through the streets of Manhattan, and seducing (or being seduced by) her protector, a muscular ex-Marine who’s played this game before, and is determined to keep Melanie from being picked off like his last assignment was — and not just because he’s going to receive a million dollars if he keeps her alive.

Don’t be fooled by the chick-lit themed Da Vinci code rip-off of a cover. It may look like a beach read, but Givenchy is fast paced and fun, and working with Melanie against the clock to interpret the clues she receives from her would-be murderer is, dare I say, delightful.

And with a tagline like “Cryptography is the new black,” how can you go wrong?

The Givenchy Code by Julie Kenner

Downtown Press, 2005

Paperback, 351 pages, $12.00

20 something copywriter and consultant Kristen King blogs at the award-winning Inkthinker blog and http://www.KristenKing.com, among other sites. Visit KristenKing.com for more lifestyle articles about religion, culture, relationships, pets, and married life in rural Virginia.

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