Seducing Sullivan
by Julie Elizabeth Leto
(Harl. Temp. #686, $3.75, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-24786-4
***
Seducing Sullivan, Julie Leto's first book, reminded me of my daily routine. When I first get up in the morning, I move slowly. I pick up speed as I go along. By the end of the day I'm hitting my stride, and life is good. Seducing Sullivan started slowly and kept getting better. However, it didn't hit its stride until near the end.

Angela Harris is attending her ten-year high school reunion with an unorthodox goal in mind. She wants to seduce Jack Sullivan, her high school beau, the one who never got her in the back seat of his car. For ten years she's wondered What if? and plans to satisfy her curiosity. Then she's going to do a Nellie Forbush and Wash That Man Right Out of Her Hair. Those of us who loveSouth Pacific know that Nellie never managed to get Emile de Becque out of her mind, much less her life.

Angela is dismayed to discover that she's more attracted to Jack after their clandestine weekend. To complicate matters, she finds that she needs him professionally to help her get a big advertising account.

Jack Sullivan is a world class photographer who remembers Angela as the nice girl that he lost due to his immaturity. As a kid, Jack let jealousy overcome common sense and left Angela alone at the Senior Prom. He then spent the rest of the night with Angela's best friend. Even ten years later the memory of that night is still clouded by an alcoholic haze.

What Jack doesn't remember or even remotely suspect is that he might have fathered a child that night. Angela has adopted her best friend's daughter after the friend died in a car accident. The friend refused to name the father, but the clues are pointing to Jack, who has no idea that he might have a nine-year-old daughter.

Several things suggest Ms. Leto's novice publishing status. The plot is fairly predictable. Jack, suffering from a failed relationship because he ultimately couldn't trust the woman, has no idea that Angela is less than forthcoming herself. This is one time that the potential of the "Big Misunderstanding" fairly telegraphs its presence. Jack is already talking about being betrayed. So we know that when he finds out about the nine-year-old, the kitty litter's gonna hit the fan.

We've also got the Yadda yadda yadda theme. Angela doesn't want a relationship. She wants sex. Jack wants a relationship based on sex and trust. Angela doesn't trust Jack to make a commitment to her and her daughter. She still sees him as the seventeen-year-old who broke her heart. Jack is beginning to dream of picket fences and dogs. Predictable . . . you bet.

If a grown man ever uttered some of the dialog that Jack uses, I would groan.

He spoke straight into her ear, willing himself not to falter under the fragrance of her perfume. "Tonight was unbelievable, angel. I want you. I'm not touching you, but I can feel you all over me. I'm not kissing you, but the sweet taste of you is still in my mouth."

When a man whispers sweet nothings in my ear, I want to be able to close my eyes, not cross them while trying to contain my snickers. I did snicker here.

His irises darkened with lucid desire. "Point me in the direction of heaven, angel."

For those of you who like your relationships spicy and based primarily on sex, this is your book. I should be biting my tongue for saying this, but there's too much sex in this book and not much meaningful conversation between these two. It's hard to know if a lasting relationship is developing. Lust keeps getting in the way.

As I said at the beginning, the story does smooth out and has a great ending. There's lots of sizzling sex, too. When Ms. Leto combines strong characters and a more original plot line with her ability to write intimate scenes, watch out. Then, not only will Sullivan be seduced, but us, too.

--Linda Mowery


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