Reality Check by Lesley Carroll
(Ballantine, $6.99, R) ISBN 0-804-12000-5
***
Reality Check is very New York, very yuppie, and very adult fare. There are some funny lines, but it's not as many as I would have liked.

Living in New York City, Liz Pemberly and her thirty-something roommates have had more than their fair share of bad dates. So when the Urban Lifestyles Channel advertises that they are looking for men and women to be contestants on their new reality-based show, “Bad Date,” the three women go for the interview.

While they are waiting for their turn, Liz notices a handsome man noticing her. Jack Rafferty is a would-be contestant for the game show. Jack also owns a restaurant in Miami. Most importantly, Jack can't take his eyes off Liz.

Liz, her roommates and Jack are all accepted as contestants. The premise of “Bad Date” is that fourteen contestants will share their worst dates with a studio audience. The audience votes off contestants whose stories are not truly pathetic. Also, the contestants are hooked up to lie detectors so if they lie, the audience will know it and will vote them off.

The last contestant left will receive one million dollars and a trip to Paris. Liz and her friends all want the prize money. Liz would love to be able to quit her job as copywriter for an ad agency.

Once the contest starts, Liz notices that she and her roommates are becoming less friendly. And although she would like to become very friendly with Jack, the rules of the contest forbid dating between contestants. Then again, some rules were made to be broken.

Reality Check is a romantic comedy with a fair amount of sex. I love sexy, romantic comedies and I should have loved this book, but I just liked it. There is humor in Reality Check, but at times it seems a little forced. And while there is lots of sex, to me, the sex just didn't seem all that sexy.

The storyline is fast and furious, which I liked. And I enjoyed the side stories concerning Liz's roommates. In fact, I was more curious about how her roommates and their love interests were going to turn out than I was about Liz and Jack's romance.

There were times I sympathized with Liz and her romantic confusion, and there were times I wanted to smack her and tell her to get her priorities straight. Have to admit the book's ending is good, but Liz and Jack's romantic journey seemed a little longer than it needed to be.

--Judith Flavell


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