Born to Be Wild

Bride For a Night

If I Can't Have You

Looking For a Hero

Something Wild

Till The End of Time

Wife For a Day

Stuck on You by Patti Berg
(Avon, $5.99, R) ISBN 0-380-82005-6
Stuck on You is one of those light-hearted, screwball comedy type romances. Trouble is, it's not very subtle, and it fairly reeks of the genre. Honestly, when the heroine is described using the words zany, screwball and wacky all in the same paragraph on the back cover, someone is trying too hard.

Scarlett O'Malley the owner of the local mystery bookstore in the small community of Plentiful, Wyoming. Twenty-nine, single and with a penchant for dressing like Britney Spears, Scarlett is known throughout the town as something of a trouble maker. She is always suspecting some type of mystery, and for the last ten years has been trying to prove her stepfather Adam had something to do with her mother's death.

It doesn't help that her closest group of friends is a bunch of bored widowers who make up her reading group The Sleuths. When The Sleuths tell Scarlett that they suspect the sexy new man in town is up to something with Plentiful's wealthiest widow, she can't resist the intrigue.

Logan Wolfe is an ex-cop from Las Vegas who is stopping by Plentiful to do a favor for a family friend. When he steps in to Scarlett's bookstore, he gets more than he bargained for. Enchanted by Scarlett's ubiquitous midriff, complete with belly button ring, he starts thinking hanging around Plentiful a while longer may not be such a bad idea. Then a mysterious woman drops dead at Scarlett's feet and all heck breaks loose.

Scarlett is as eccentric as they come. She's very petite, probably why she can get away with her teenybopper wardrobe, and wears five-inch spike heels just to gain a little height. Then there are her precious belly-button charms, one for every occasion, not to mention her rainbow assortment of leather miniskirts. Scarlet has red hair, green eyes a troublesome little terrier and can whip up the best baked goods in town. She's just quirky, feisty and feisty, quirky. This does not leave a lot of room for intelligent or deep.

Our intrepid heroine is the poster girl for acting first, thinking later. Like going to a deserted garbage dump, out in the middle of nowhere, at dusk, alone. She doesn't even bring a flashlight, but at least she's wearing a sweatshirt to cover her midriff. Then there's digging around in a filthy dumpster, without gloves. I don't care how small the town is, their garbage is as germy as anyone else's. But Scarlett is cute, and sexy, and she has a belly-button ring!

Apparently that's all that matters to Logan. The reader is never quite sure why Logan and Scarlett fall in love. They spend most of their time together arguing while secretly lusting after one another. Not exactly the firmest foundation for a relationship. In fact, when Scarlett asks Logan why he fell in love with her, he has no good answer for her. He basically says it's because she's desirable and cures his boredom. Try not to swoon there.

Still, Logan isn't all that bad, despite his inability to come up with a good reason for falling in love. The fact that he admits his feelings for her pretty soon after he discovers them himself is a point in his favor. His backstory is a little whiny, but in general he is a decent hero. His down to earth nature compliments Scarlett well.

The mystery element of the story is entertaining enough. It doesn't overwhelm the story and keeps the reader guessing. While the culprit doesn't come as much of a surprise, the circumstances do. It's quite the twist, completely unique, while still maintaining its believability.

Stuck on You is a quick read that would have fared much better with a little less effort to fit a mold. After a while the quirky-zany-screwball-wacky got a little too much to take. By the time the reader sees Logan's new accessory in the epilogue, it's just as well the book is over.

--Anne Bulin

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