Temperatures Rising

The Bad Boys Guide to the Galaxy
by Karen Kelley
(Brava, $14, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-7582-1769-1
Dallas cop Sam Jones knows all about the women of Planet Nerak. His partner Nick is hooked up with one, Kira, and Sam himself has been in lust with a hologram of her sister Lara. The real Lara, who lands unexpectedly on his roof, is even more appealing, but she is also much too haughty for his efforts. He reluctantly invites her to spend time in his vacation cabin.

Lara is a healer who has been sent to Earth to look for plants that will cure the Elders from an Earth virus. Fully convinced that her planet is superior, she is determined to heed the Elders' warnings and stay away from chocolate, men and other dangerous diversions. She quickly gives in once she enjoys a sunset and soon discovers she can't get enough of either Sam or chocolate. As Sam initiates her into more and more earthbound pleasures, he becomes increasingly tolerant of Lara's seemingly disdainful attitude. However will they manage to keep up their relationship once she finds her cure and returns to Planet Nerak?

There really isn't much more to the story than that. Neither Sam nor Lara have issues or problems, which means that the story focuses primarily on their adjusting to each other. Contrary to the title, Sam is not much of a bad boy. He has simple and down-to-earth tastes. This makes it occasionally difficult for him to adjust to a high-maintenance alien princess. His efforts peg him as an overall nice guy. Lara's snootiness is harder to swallow, although it does fit with her background and upbringing.

The humor is more slapstick than wit. Many of the episodes, including Lara's discovery of chocolate, wine and slot machines, lack originality and verve, but they keep the story going.

There is one small attempt to introduce suspense. A Nerak exile and her half-human offspring live in the same backwoods, and a mysterious someone is highly intrigued in the goings-on at Sam's cabin. These incidents are ultimately unveiled, but they always take second place to pleasure, pleasure and more pleasure.

We do eventually embark on some interplanetary travel, but since the focus remains on the couple, the world-building is rather limited. I suspect that some of it has already been covered in other novels in the series.

The Bad Boys Guide to the Galaxy doesn't grip from cover to cover, but it is painless, quick and easy. Final verdict: a simple and light-hearted way to get through a couple of hours.

--Mary Benn

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