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Not in My Bed! by Kate Hoffmann
(Harl. Tempt. #731, $3.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-25831-3
***
Not in My Bed! is one of The Wrong Bed miniseries. These stories are based on the premise of being in the 'wrong bed' with the right person. Here our two lovers take a while to discover that the wrong bed does have that special person.

Chicago travel agent Carrie Reynolds lusts after Devlin Riley every time he comes into her travel agency, but she's so flummoxed by this gorgeous hunk that she get doesn't even have the nerve to talk to him and gets her partner to work with him. Carrie is just too shy and too overwhelmed by this sexy bachelor to feel comfortable around Devlin. But a woman can dream . . . and fantasize.

When Carrie finds out that Dev has just planned a romantic vacation so that he can propose to his lady love, she knows that her chances of ever winning Dev are over. Giving up, she asks her partner to plan her humdinger of a vacation. She'll just start over and find someone one else.

She changes her hair color, gets contact lenses and invests in a new wardrobe. Carrie decides that it's time to develop some confidence and become an adventurous, worldly woman, one that could attract the Devlin Rileys of this world.

Yeah, right. Carrie begins her trip by holding her airsick bag in a deadly grip, for the whole flight. Arriving in Miami, she learns that she's not going to be at a singles resort, but will be cruising on a fifty-foot ketch. Oh, goody, more motion sickness. Collapsing onto her bed for a much needed rest, Carrie has no idea that Devlin Riley, now unattached after being dumped, is on the same ketch and is headed for what he thinks is his room . . . and his bed.

Deceptions are not my favorite plot line. You never know if there's going to be a megaton explosion or if things will be smoothed over with some grace. Devlin never really met Carrie, so of course he doesn't recognize her. The last time he saw her, she was picking herself up from a snow-covered Chicago sidewalk. Now she's wearing contacts and has blond hair. But she recognizes him. And pretends to be somebody else.

From here on Devlin and Carrie get to know each other, becoming friends. Devlin alternates between reminding himself that he's sworn off women and lusting after Carrie. She's still overwhelmed that this man would be interested in . . . drab, unappealing Carrie.

Several things marred my enjoyment of this story. One thing that kept breaking my rhythm was the author's tendency to tell rather than show. There would be descriptive paragraphs with no dialog and nothing to break the omniscient point of view. Reading so many descriptive paragraphs in a row became tedious and really slowed the pace.

The second thing which bothered me was the lack of animation, that special oomph that memorable characters have, that magic which makes them walk off the page. It was missing here. I didn't have any reason to care about these tepid characters, and a reason never miraculously appeared. I can't say that they were shallow, but I never developed any interest in what happened to them.

To be fair, I did enjoy the Florida Keys locale. People who've lived through a Chicago winter deserve to thaw in wonderful surroundings. Also, Carrie's partner seems to be having such good luck at matchmaking that perhaps she'll get her own story.

Even though Not in My Bed!is not as riveting as some of the Wrong Bed books, I'm still looking forward to more books in this series.

--Linda Mowery


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