Stuck With You by Trish Jensen
(Dorchester, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-505-52422-8
****
Paige Hart figures the only thing she has in common with Ross Bennett is that they’re lawyers and they are working on a divorce - from the opposite sides. But Paige is helping out one of her many relatives who need legal help and Ross Bennett - well, Paige figures he’s just a snake. Any divorce lawyer is, by her definition, a creep. This one is a good-looking snake but they’re the worst kind.

Then the bomb hits. Literally.

The two of them wake up in hospital beds in the same quarantined room. An ambulance stopped for them but in the crisis after the bombing (and after September 11th this is an uncomfortable premise), the two of them get inside a contaminated emergency vehicle.

Paige and Ross get the idea things could be bad when their doctor won’t enter the room until she is dressed in a mask and gloves. Ross and Paige guess right. The two of them may have been exposed to Tibetan Concupiscence Virus. The symptoms of TCV are uncontrollable lust. The two of them soon realize they must be coming down with the virus because they are definitely finding it difficult to keep their hands off each other, even though they don’t like each other and they’re under observation night and day.

They have more observers than just the hospital staff. All of the Hart family rallies around. . . and demands attention. As the only lawyer in her large family, Paige is called on to do everything from wills to criminal law even when she is under quarantine. Ross watches Paige in action. He is fascinated, a little envious that she has family and finds that he likes her more than he wants to. Paige, meanwhile, is annoyed that Ross doesn’t live up to her bad opinion of him.

The couple is a good match for each other, even though they fear they’re only interested because of a virus. They admire each other’s verbal ability. They soon admire each other’s sexual ability. There seems to be more than just TCV in the air. The couple learns to genuinely care for each other and to show their vulnerabilities. And Paige's brother, Nick, who knew the couple’s doctor way back when, provides an interesting subplot that complements Ross and Paige’s relationship.

Stuck With You might not make you roar with laughter but it should keep you smile and keep reading. The plot is, of course, contrived but the characters manage to step away from clichés. There is warmth between the characters - okay, sometimes a lot of warmth - and sweetness. Both Ross and Nick rise above their reputation as womanizers to show themselves as caring and mature. Trish rises above her previous distrust. Rachel, the doctor who has huge insecurities about her attractiveness, learns that she needn’t be insecure.

Stuck With You contains warmth, humor, romance and sex. It almost makes the reader want to get the Tibetan Concupiscence Virus.

--Irene Williams


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