Carried Away

The Charm Stone

The Cinderella Rules

Dear Prince Charming

Heat of the Night

The Legend MacKinnon

Legend of the Sorcerer

Not So Snow White

The Royal Hunter

Sleeping With Beauty

Tease Me

Walk on the Wild Side

 Your Wish is My Command

A Great Kisser
by Donna Kauffman
(Kensington, $14, PG-13)  ISBN 978-0-758231314
Jake McKenna is an ace pilot and aviation mechanic. His life in the small town of Cedar Springs, Colorado, suits him just fine as he manages his flight school and prepares his late grandfather’s P-51 Mustang for the Reno Air Races. Then his younger sister, Ruby, coerces a favor from him by the age-old method of bursting into tears, then hanging up the phone. Ruby is an assistant to the mayor, whose new stepdaughter is arriving for a visit. She’s rumored to be uptight and humorless, so would Jake pretty please take her on a date or something? Since Jake is one of those good brothers who can’t tell his kid sister to knock it off, he soon finds himself enroute to pick up Lauren Matthews and bring her to Cedar Springs, where he’ll show her around.

Lauren is an aide to a Senator and likes her life in Washington, D.C. – or at least she did, as she’s recently quit her job and is now at loose ends. She was none too happy to hear that her widowed mother, Charlene, had married Arlen Thompson, the mayor of Cedar Springs, after a whirlwind courtship. The whole thing seems suspicious. What better way to check it out than a trip to Colorado? And now that she’s unemployed, she can hang around indefinitely, which is convenient to the plot.

Lauren is described as sensible, smart, etc. But she makes a dumb, or at least incomprehensible, move right off the bat. Jake flies to meet her at a small regional airport, but they have to borrow a vehicle and drive back to Cedar Springs due to bad weather. Lauren agrees to travel alone with Jake, whom she’s never met, on a three-hour trip through the mountains, and by the time they arrive in Cedar Springs she still hasn’t even asked him his name. In fact, she never does – she finds it out incidentally the next day. This bit of idiocy aside, Lauren is an enjoyable character as she bikes around town and gets to know Jake, who in turn finds himself unexpectedly attracted to her.

But someone isn’t happy that Lauren is asking questions about the mayor. Jake and Lauren spend time together and form a nice friendship that deepens into lust, then love. The suspense takes a backseat to their developing relationship, only appearing in spots, and it’s not very convincing. The romance is much more sparkly, and a lot more enjoyable.

Both Jake and Lauren are fun characters. Neither is looking for love, and it takes them both by surprise. This is fun. The author wisely doesn’t rush them into bed, either – they have time to get to know one another a bit and share more than a couple of conversations. Jake’s determination to win at the Reno Air Races adds some dimension to the plot.

A Great Kisser wins points for its well-done romance, but not for the tepid suspense thread. All in all, it’s a pleasant read, a fine choice for a winter’s day.  

--Cathy Sova

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