A Girlís Guide to Vampires

Improper English

Noble Intentions

Blow Me Down by Katie MacAlister
(Signet, 6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-451-21639-3
Paranormal romance seems to be the flavor of the month, with books ranging in quality from a delicious 5 hearter to barely readable. Blow Me Down by Katie MacAlister falls firmly in the middle of that range.

Amy Stewart is a workaholic divorcee, rearing a teenage daughter. Amy doesnít like to waste time and she doesnít feel the need for play. Her daughter disagrees with this philosophy and coerces Amy into participating in the newest internet role-playing game, Buckling Swashes. Amy chooses her pirate name, Earless Erika, and logs on during a thunderstorm.

Amy quickly encounters Black Corbin, the online identity of the gameís owner and programmer, P.C. Monroe. Black Corbin is the head pirate, tough and clever, but Amy beats him in a swordfight and wins the deed to one of Corbinís ships. How can Corbin help but fall in love with her? The fact that Amy is skimpily dressed and carrying a wooden leg adds to her appeal.

Soon after this event, Amy and Corbin realize they are stuck in the game. They have to find the real villain amongst the many characters that are mere programming, and then get out of the game to tend their bodies which are sitting idle while their minds have been hijacked. They also have to keep playing the game and stay in their pirate identities, which sets them at war with one another.

Blow Me Down is an odd mix of a book. The premise is completely weird and in no way believable, but Ms. MacAlister makes it seem that the characterís situation could possibly occur. The zany plot and cartoon cover could make some readers cringe, but humor smoothes out a lot of the rough spots.

I did have a major problem with the book at first, because Amy logs on during a thunderstorm which appears to be the cause of the gameís malfunction, and a character in the book tells Amy (ominously) that sheís part of the game now. Then later, the plot leaves the fantastic behind and the solution to Amy and Corbinís dilemma becomes more prosaic.

While this isnít a book youíd want to describe in detail during a book discussion with someone whose respect you want, it is a guilty pleasure. The characters are funny, the setting and plot are different and amusing, and the ending has a little twist that works very well.

Blow Me Down canít be taken seriously, but it is an entertaining read.

--Wendy Livingston

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