A Funny Thing Happened on
the Way to the Delivery Room

The Homecoming


The Promise

The Untamed

Come Near Me by Kasey Michaels
(Warner, $6.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-446-60583-2
Can this marriage be saved? Can these souls be saved? These are the questions presented in Kasey Michael's newest romance, Come Near Me.

Adam Dagenham, Marquess of Daventry, takes one look at Sherry Victor and is smitten. He must have her and so he marries her. At first, their marriage is like a fairy tale: it's a perfect paradise. And like paradise it's ruined by a serpent, a serpent named Richard Brimley.

When Richard first enters Adam and Sherry's lives, he's a welcome source of amusement. Adam's younger brother, Geoff, is particularly taken with the worldly, darkly handsome and oh-so charming Mr. Brimley. Richard encourages Geoff to take part in dangerous horse races.

Adam decides Richard is too dangerous; he doesn't want Sherry to associate with Mr. Brimley. Sherry complies. But after Geoff is seriously injured in a race and Adam discovers Sherry in Richard's arms, he believes the worst of Sherry.

Sherry tries to tell Adam she never betrayed him and that she was only trying to help Geoff, but Adam refuses to listen. Their perfect love crumbles under the test of faith presented by Mr. Brimley.

In the face of Adam's unrelenting scorn, Sherry's love for him turns to dust. Even their strong physical attraction for one another turns cold. Adam finally realizes that he's made a terrible mistake in treating Sherry so badly, but it may be too late to win back her love.

For Sherry has a new admirer, Edmund Burnell. Edmund is blond and handsome, oh-so charming and very attentive. In fact, he's rather like Richard but Sherry doesn't want to dislike Edmund, who has been kind, while Adam has been cruel. She certainly doesn't believe him when he tells her he's the Devil.

Although I liked the thought-provoking plot of Come Near Me, I didn't think it had enough of an edge. For a book that reaches into the nether world for characters, there should be more fire and, well, brimstone.

In truth, however, this story is a bit bland. I never felt Adam or Sherry were in danger of losing their souls or their love.

Still, I do appreciate the fresh and intriguing look at love presented in Come Near Me. For Sherry and Adam, (I'm glad the author resisted calling the heroine Eve) love and romance are easy to sustain when life is perfect. But they soon realize that real love has nothing to do with perfection or paradise.

Love and faith must be put to the test to be considered real; Sherry and Adam are being tested as to their faith in one another. While I could get into the allegories this book presents, let's just say that Kasey Michaels puts an interesting spin on the question of what is true love and true faith with her "devilish" romance.

--Judith Flavell

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