has also reviewed:

As Nikki Holiday:

Heaven Knows Best

Heaven Comes Home

 
Bedroom Eyes
by Hailey North (aka Nikki Holiday)
(Avon, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-380-79895-6
***
Bedroom Eyes is a curious mix of fantasy, romance and suspense. Although these elements fail to jell cohesively together in the end, the novel is lively and humorous. It's not a keeper, but it's fun.

Penelope Sue Fields, "voted by her senior class most likely to be the first spinster appointed to the Supreme Court," has a vivid fantasy life to compensate for her drab, workaholic, lonely life. She has been asked out several times by David Hinson, a fellow lawyer, but there are no sparks between the two. She has more fun imagining herself in the arms of Raoul, her fantasy lover.

Then a chance encounter in an elevator with a striking man who has bedroom eyes changes her life. Suddenly Raoul and David can't measure up. She knows nothing about this man not even his name but he starts to feature prominently in her fantasies. Then he coincidentally appears (in reality) wherever she goes. But that's not her only ilemma.

While shopping at the pottery store, our heroine hears a small voice calling for help and meets an elderly woman who just happens to be six inches tall. Mrs. Maebelle Merlin tells Penelope that she was trying to cast a spell using "candle magick," but something went awry, causing her to shrink to this unmanageable size. Mrs. Merlin convinces Penelope to take her home and help her find the right spell to restore her normal appearance.

Meanwhile, ex-cop Tony Olano, the man with the bedroom eyes, is following Penelope to figure out why she is spending so much time with David Hinson, who has strong Mafia connections. Despite Penelope's buttoned-up, virginal appearance, Tony can sense the passionate woman underneath, and he keeps approaching her even though he knows he could be jeopardizing his job.

All of these elements are mixed up together, with varying degrees of success, as Penelope comes out of her shell, gets in touch with her sense of adventure, and of course trades in her fantasy life for a very real and ardent Tony. Penelope is a decent heroine, and it's fun to watch her blossom, but I did have several quibbles. First of all, she falls in love with Tony, even though he keeps popping up in unlikely places. From her point of view, I would think he would appear to be more stalker than prospective lover. Yet knowing nothing about him, she lets him into her apartment and doesn't even learn his name until page 70! Other than the physical attraction, it's hard to know why she falls in love so easily. Penelope also has a habit of uttering alliterative exclamations when surprised or bemused, as in "Fritos and frogs!" or "Lollipops and lilacs!" You could call that cute...or you could call it a little too cutesy. It's a fine line.

Tony, the unfortunately named hero (I kept wanting to yell, hey, where's Dawn?) has good intentions, but he keeps pushing Penelope away for her own good. This causes a jarring end to a sweet lovemaking scene that leaves a sour taste for the rest of the novel.

Mrs. Merlin and her mentor, Mr. Gotho, freely dispense plenty of New Age advice about auras and balance to help Penelope. The final 50 pages of the novel, when Mrs. Merlin's magical spells go awry, run another fine line between lighthearted romp and pure goofiness.

Hailey North has also written three books as Nikki Holiday, and in both incarnations her writing style is lively but sometimes awkward, with run-on sentences and modifiers that dangle precariously at times. She's definitely got creativity in her bag of tricks, but still needs more polish to be a truly satisfying author.

--Susan Scribner


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