by Millie Criswell

January 2004
ISBN: 0-8041-1994-5
Reviewer Graphic Button Ivy Books
Mass Market Paperback

Mia DeNero was bound and determined to make a success of her bodyguard business, Guardian Angel. She knew her father and others in the community of Little Italy didn’t believe Mia had what it took to be in the protective services business. But Mia knew that it didn’t matter that she was tiny and barely weighed 110 soaking wet, or that she had already been through a myriad of “career choices” in the past, this time she was serious! So when Nick Caruso walked in and offered Mia a job protecting him from the Mafia, she wiped the banana off her nose (don’t ask) and swore to guard him with her life if need be.

FBI agent Nick Caruso wasn’t thrilled to be playing the part of a geeky author in need of protection from a woman half his size, but he was determined to crack the case of a money laundering operation in Little Italy no matter what it took - even if that meant having to live with the stubborn, over-protective, but incredibly sexy Mia. Going undercover as an author writing a book about the Mafia, Nick soon finds himself enveloped in life in Little Italy, as crazy as it may be at times with Mia’s cross-dressing father and the many romances and idiosyncrasies of the neighborhood.

Before long, living in such close quarters has the two getting more than just professionally involved. But there is more than just Mia’s past wounds from a bad relationship keeping them apart; soon Nick’s questions into Little Italy’s Mafia connections spark danger and his life being threatened is no longer just fiction but actuality! And what will happen when Mia finds out that Nick isn’t really who she thinks he is and his betrayal opens wounds Mia has never quite gotten over?

Mad About Mia is a continuation of Millie Criswell’s Littly Italy series. Having been a fan of her earlier works and having read the previous books of the series, I was eagerly anticipating getting my hands on Mad About Mia. The novel kept with Ms. Criswell’s style of involving the characters from her past stories into the plot so those who are anxious to hear how the characters you have come to know and love are doing will be happy. Unfortunately, the rest of Mad About Mia doesn’t quite meet up to the standards I had come to expect from Ms. Criswell’s penmanship.

While on the surface the plot is full of fun characters and the premise of an FBI agent going undercover as an author needing protection is interesting, there are too many inconsistencies and unfinished storylines in Mad About Mia to be satisfying. For instance, for an FBI agent, Nick let his cover be blown rather easily and I found his “disguise” to hide his un-geekiness, a pair of dark rimmed glass, too Superman-ish. A career mistake in Nick’s past is also hinted at but never disclosed. Also, there is one instance where Mia goes to her sister and friends for a makeover but then the makeover never seems to take place.

On the bright side, Ms. Criswell’s trademark humor is still present throughout Mad About Mia and it really isn’t a novel to be taken too seriously even with a plot dealing with the Mafia and the FBI. If you’re a fan of her earlier works, and if you’re looking for a lighthearted romance with a couple laughs thrown in, you may want to give Mad About Mia a try!

Reviewed in December 2003 by Nicole.

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