The Legend MacKinnon

Legend of the Sorcerer

The Royal Hunter

Tease Me

Walk on the Wild Side

Your Wish is My Command

Carried Away by Donna Kauffman
(Harl. Tempt. #874, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-25974-3
As a reviewer, I spend a certain amount of time warning you about my prejudices and explaining my sense of humor so youíll know why I found a particular book less than satisfying even though other people might like it. Itís very liberating to confess one of my partialities.

I adore love stories that have real people in them. Sure, itís nice to read an extravagant fantasy every now and then, but mostly my favorites (whether contemporary or historical) are books that sound like there was a romantic courtship and happily-ever-after for people who could live down the hall from me (or in the next village or whatever). Never mind the prince; give me Mister Charming any day.

Enter Trevor McQuillen. Trevor is a ďcan-doĒ kind of Best Man so, when it looks like someone named Viv might ruin the brideís day by skipping the wedding (someone told Viv that the misguided, matchmaking bride also invited Eric, Vivís overbearing ex-husband) Trevor goes after her. He drives to Vivís house, drags her out of bed, tosses her and the bridesmaidís dress into the back seat of his car and gets her to the church more or less on time.

Except it turns out the groggy size-12 woman squeezed into the size-10 bridesmaid dress (it was either that or have him drag her into the church in her underwear) isnít Viv. Itís Christy Russell, an ICU nurse whoís half-comatose after working three shifts and isnít quite sure whatís happening except that it involves a really good looking man and sheís dying to see the look on his face when he discovers his mistake.

With both of them trying to figure out how he can make it up to her (Christy has some ideas, but they donít know each other that well...yet), Trevor takes Christy home after the wedding. After making him promise that he will not, repeat not, permit the bride to reveal where Viv is hiding out, Christy goes back to sleep, only to be awakened several hours later, once again by Trevor. Eric somehow discovered that Viv has gone to her parentsí lake house, and is probably on his way there now. Christy and Trevor pile into his car and theyíre off to the rescue.

And so a relationship begins. It might be a shaky beginning, but it is a beginning nonetheless. Then Ms. Kauffman does several things right.

Perhaps the most important is that she successfully creates, sustains and builds some real sexual tension between these two characters. People (not just reviewers) complain that in short format books characters are rushed into lust before anybody - character or reader - is ready for it. That is not the case here. The relationship heats up at a believable pace, with a nice blend of action and insight into the charactersí thoughts. By the time it bursts into flame, weíre all really ready for it.

They are also likable, believable characters who sound like they live in the real world. Both Trevor and Christy have lives they like, their own needs and their own insecurities, and they have to find a way to make room for each other and their relationship. But they want to, so that helps them get there. Theyíre also both smart and equipped with fully functioning senses of humor, and that helps the reader enjoy it.

There are secondary characters who are much more than just caricatures pasted on the scenery, which is nice, but the story focuses firmly on Trevor and Christy, and thatís even better.

My one quibble is that occasionally everything grinds to a halt for some pop relationship psychology. It was pretty unsubtle and I had to make myself read it - my eye just automatically went into skim mode. Rather than conversations, they were little lectures on Trust and Compromise and Relationships. Like just about anyone who has a mother, when I hear - or, in this case, read - anything with that tone, my mind gears down and wanders off.

Other than that? Itís entertaining. Itís romantic. Itís the kind of book that reminds me why I havenít given up on series romance.

--Judi McKee

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