Against His Will

Phi Beta Bimbo

Stuck With You

Without A Clue by Trish Jensen
(Flipside, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-44208-4
Lighthearted fluff at times is just the ticket and Without a Clue is one of those entries that help the genre survive. It is cute but not too cute and the romance is very satisfying.

Megan Renshaw may have been dumped at the altar when her fiancé ran off with her sister, but she is not a pushover. She is now determined to make something of herself and be fulfilled by her work, not by a husband and family. Her success depends on the upcoming weekend – a murder mystery weekend in a purportedly haunted mansion.

Said mansion is owned by Matt Rossi, a straight talking, organized and meticulous real estate developer, who decided to move into his house because it is now time to start on the personal side of his list of goals. That goal is to find a spouse, settle down and have lots of kids. It is all that is left on his to-do list of life's achievements.

Matt purchased this house sight unseen, and is distressed to discover that his agent rented the house to Meg for this weekend. Meg is more than distressed. She has just discovered that the actor she hired to be the victim is intoxicated on pain medication from a root canal. But Meg is a fly by the seat of her pants kind of gal. She immediately convinces Matt to be her murder victim. He agrees but has no idea what he has gotten himself into.

Matt and Meg are like oil and water at times, being exact opposites. Meg thrives on chaos, although she would like at least one thing to go right this weekend. Matt thrives on order and feels the need to make a list and check everything off. The two soon learn the value of the other's systems. When they are not in conflict over their roles, they start to notice they are attracted physically.

Then they must tackle their different goals. Meg is the oldest of four children and she feels she helped raise her younger siblings. She is not ready to have a family. Matt, on the other hand, is an only child. Now that he has established his business and is successful, his list indicates it is time to settle down. Can they make their lives mesh?

This is a fun tale, with lots of quirks and unique characters. There are the elements of the murder mystery with actors and guests. One guest is a cat who happens to be carried by a professor. One of the actresses is allergic to the cat, but not the professor. There are clandestine little affairs and there are ghosts. Matt is “killed” early in the weekend and spends the rest of the time "haunting the guests," but is there a ghost haunting him?

The story starts off a little slow. Matt and Meg seem very stereotypical. Meg is a whirlwind and almost seems ditzy. Matt is a stick in the mud and seems overly rigid. But it doesn't take long for the two to relax and get into the spirit of the tale. Once that happens, the rest of the story is fun and engaging.

Fluff is often fluff, but when it is fun and romantic, it is worth spending an afternoon enjoying. Without a Clue falls into this category easily.

--Shirley Lyons

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