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Private Lessons
by Julie Elizabeth Leto
(Harl. Tempt. #724, $3.75, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-25824-0
****
In her dedication, Julie Leto writes to her editor, "Thanks for not letting me be a one-book wonder." As an extremely pleased reader, I'd like to second that acknowledgment. Private Lessons was so much fun to read that I managed to arrange my schedule so that I could read it without being uninterrupted. It was definitely time well spent.

Talk about having a bad week. Hailey Roberts is in the middle of one. She's just declared her independence from her dominating guardian, is ready to begin her life on her own terms and whammy, her car is stolen, with all of her stuff still inside. She's got to come up with money or she'll lose her real estate deposit and will be unable to support her younger brother. She's doing the unthinkable. For one night only, she's going to be a stripper at a bachelor party. She hates the thought of doing it, but starving and living on the streets isn't an option.

Arriving at the party, she spots Grant Riordan, "the most gorgeous – and the most intense-looking man she's ever encountered," Hailey's frazzled. Can she really strip in front of this Adonis? Nope, she can't do it. A calamity of slapstick proportions ensues, with Hailey being knocked unconscious by a falling book. When she awakens, she has no idea who she is or why she's at the party. Is she really a stripper? This is one of the most convenient times to have amnesia that I've ever read about. But it works well as a plot device and doesn't feel clichéd at all.

Grant Rioridan is Mr. Up-Tight, a CEO of an old and prestigious investment firm. The last two CEOs have been removed for moral turpitude. Grant has to keep this job, and he has to keep the old coots happy. Any hint of scandal is a doomsday scenario for him. He briefly envisions Hailey suing him out the kazoo, but his basic goodness surfaces, causing him to offer Hailey refuge. She doesn't remember who she is, where she is, what she does. He'd be a heel to kick her out. And let's be honest. He's attracted to this lively, vivacious woman.

There's a mystery subplot that's intriguing. Searching the striptease clubs for a clue as to Hailey's identity, she and Grant come upon a name of a fellow stripper who may know who Hailey is. As they search for her, they discover that they aren't the only ones looking. Some major heavies also want to find the woman.

Private Lessons is one of the Blaze imprints. How can I describe the sexual tension? Imagine bubbling summer asphalt on a Texas highway. That should give you an indication of how hot this book is. What made this book so deliciously sexy is that it's easy to care for the characters. This isn't sex for sex's sake or lust in the dust. It's passion between two people who genuinely care for each other. That's sexual pleasure at its finest. And wait until you read the end scene where Hailey finally does strip for her Adonis. My goodness gracious, it's not a Calgon moment, but rather a Tabasco one.

Private Lessons is about intelligent people behaving intelligently, with plenty of sexual chemistry thrown in. Add all of this into an engrossing plot, and it's hard to ask for much more. Somehow I don't think that Julie Elizabeth Leto will be a two-book wonder, either. Or a twenty-book wonder. Or a...

--Linda Mowery


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