Constant Craving

For Her Eyes Only

Just Eight Months Old

License to Thrill

Never Say Never Again

The P. I. Who Loved Her

You Only Love Once

You Sexy Thing! by Tori Carrington
(Harl. Blaze #15, $4.50, R) ISBN 0-373-79019-8
You Sexy Thing! is a recent addition to Harlequin’s new Blaze imprint. It has hot sex, and plenty of it, which will please readers looking for a more erotic read. In the end, though, it felt curiously lacking in substance or depth.

Dylan Fairbanks and Grace Mattias are both sex therapists with popular books on the subject. Their approaches are vastly different; Dylan promotes monogamous matrimony as a means to sexual fulfillment, while Grace advocates short-term flings in order to explore one’s sexuality. Both are frauds in a way. Grace, the daughter of repressed country-club types, wants to have her own flings but can’t quite bring herself to do it. Dylan, child of hippies, longs for a house with a picket fence and has a fiancée all picked out, but secretly longs for a passionate woman.

Grace and Dylan are thrown together on a book tour after their first meeting on a New York talk show brings in a huge audience. Dylan has already walked in on Grace in the shower, thanks to a hotel room mixup, and he can’t get the image of her lush nakedness out of his mind. Grace is very attracted to the hunky doctor in the oh-so-correct business suit. She soon decides that it’s time to have that fling - and Dylan Fairbanks is just the man to fling with.

Grace and Dylan eventually self-combust on the kitchen counter in a hotel room suite, and it’s hot, indeed. But the almost-fiancée calls at the worst possible moment, leaving Grace wondering if she’s been used, and Dylan wondering if he’s got his life planned out properly after all.

The husband-and-wife writing team of Tori Carrington certainly doesn’t shrink from writing hot sex. Dylan and Grace have plenty of it. But the focus of the book is on the sexual encounters, and they are often so contrived in their setup that it was hard not to groan. Take the initial encounter where Dylan walks in on Grace in the shower, where he gets an eyeful of her nakedness because she’s standing under the spray with the shower curtain wide open. Would any sane person shower this way? Not unless she wanted to soak the floor and walls as well. Then there’s the episode where Grace stops for a visit at her parents’, and her mother invites Dylan to dinner because he just happened to be giving a talk at her country club on that very same day. This leads to an opportunity for sex in the laundry room. Hot? Yes. Predictable? Also yes.

In the end, though Grace and Dylan don’t seem to have any problems in the bedroom, I had little faith that theirs was a love match. Taken separately, their characters are very likable. Together, they spend their time together in perpetual heat, so to speak. The “relationship” felt more like “if I want you this much, it must be love”.

Maybe this is the challenge the Blaze line will have to address. All the hot sex in the world won't make up for a superficial romance where the leads spend little time getting to know each other. If you’re looking for a steamy tale, You Sexy Thing! will undoubtedly hit the mark. As a love story, it leaves a bit more to be desired.

--Cathy Sova

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