Addicted to Nick by Bronwyn Jameson
(Silh. Desire # 1410, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-76410-3
***
Readers who are ready for a quick trip Down Under may want to take a look at Addicted to Nick. Nick Corelli, black-sheep son of the Corelli family, has spent the past ten years living in New York. Now his father, Joe, has died and left him half of Yarra Park, an Australian horse farm. Nick arrives at Yarra to find the other half-owner in residence. She's Tamara Cole, known as T.C. Rumor has it she was his father's mistress, a rumor that Tamara hotly denies. She's the chief horse trainer and stable manager, and Joe's bequest has caught her completely off-guard. Joe's apparent intention to bequeath her Nick, as well, shakes Tamara up even further.

Nick is mystified by the blonde beauty who is living in an empty room in the barn, when she could be residing at the house. Nick insists that Tamara move to the main house while they sort out the legal mess and decide what to do with the horse farm. The more Nick gets to know Tamara, the more intrigued he is. Tamara, for her part, is unwillingly drawn to Nick's good looks. But she was burned in the past, and has no intention of losing her heart to a sweet-talking charmer. When Nick buys a motorcycle and decides to use it to woo Tamara, she's definitely in trouble.

And that's about the sum total of this story. Nick and Tamara are both fairly standard characters; not without charm, but not memorable, either. He's handsome and wealthy. She's beautiful and prickly. Maybe they'll fall into bed with each other, maybe they won't. There just isn't much conflict here. Tamara had a difficult relationship with her now-deceased father, and the same can be said for Nick, but as a source of conflict, it felt thin at best, and at worst, made Tamara seem rather immature. "I can't/won't love you because dear old Dad was a S.O. B." treads a bit to close to victimhood and isn't particularly compelling to read about.

What is fun about this book is the Australian setting. For readers who are a bit tired of Texas or Montana, Yarra Park is a delightful place to hang out. Locals are used adroitly and add a bit of color. The horses are given a bit of personality, too. Taken together, these elements round out the story quite well.

The romance is on the thin side, but it's nicely-dressed. Bronwyn Jameson is a new author for me; she writes well and her dialogue in particular is crisp and realistic. Feel like a little armchair traveling with your romance? Addicted to Nick might be a pleasant escape. And if you're a sucker for a guy on a motorcycle, you'll find Nick Corelli to be quite compelling, indeed.

--Cathy Sova


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