Bedroom Eyes

As Nikki Holiday:

Heaven Knows Best

Heaven Comes Home

Pillow Talk by Hailey North
(Avon, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-380-80519-7
If you're hoping this book will be as clever and witty as the Doris Day/Rock Hudson classic film bearing the same name, you are bound to be disappointed. In fact, the only thing clever about this Pillow Talk is the cover -- a cute and colorful take on an old '60s typeface. Unfortunately, there's not much wit either, although the author tries by stocking the pages with not one, but four, precocious kids. And you know them (wink, wink)…they'll say the darndest things! Guffaw. Not.

Parker Ponthier -- a name that fairly drips with New Orleans (or should I say, "N'awlins") flavor, meets Meg Cooper when he walks into his brother Jules' hotel suite and finds her half undressed. Parker doesn't know that Meg married Jules in Las Vegas a few days before, so he assumes she's a hooker. Naturally. His next announcement shocks Meg even more -- Jules is dead -- shot by an undercover cop while trying to score some coke.

Now at this point, any sane woman would announce her reasons for being there and beat it out of town. But not Meg. No. She doesn't tell Parker that she served Jules a few drinks in Vegas and he agreed to pay her $30,000 if she would marry him and go along with his scheme to outvote Parker in a buyout of the family company. Meg desperately needs the money since her late husband left her broke with three kids. But Meg doesn't tell Parker any of this. Instead, she lets him believe what he will.

What Parker believes is that his widowed sister-in-law is as hot as Cajun spice and that he'd like to get him some. Meg's thoughts aren't too different. Both give mournful lip service to "poor" Jules while trying to figure out what the other looks like without clothes. The two begin to bond in earnest when they drive to Mississippi to rescue Jules' son, Gus, from a Dickensian boarding school. Since this little guy has been ignored most of his life, it gives the author a good excuse to throw in some contemporary cursing and high-fives.

Meg as it turns out is as natural with kids as Parker is unnatural. But you can't blame him; his is the family that put the dys in dysfunctional. That is also supposed to explain why Parker flies off the handle every time he learns something new about Meg. Granted, she doesn't tell him the whole truth about her situation until it’s far too late and by then, of course, the reader has been primed for a misunderstanding big enough to drive a truck through.

The only scenes I found myself even remotely interested in were those involving Gus and Meg's kids, who conveniently arrive under the watchful guise of a "sainted" babysitter we know nothing about, but who promptly catches the eye of Parker's irascible grandfather. For the most part Gus and the kids act like kids, down to the littlest's devotion to Barbie and Ken. There is one cute scene wherein all the children "camp out" in Parker's office, making tents out of furniture and blankets. It's a childhood rite of passage that had me smiling. But that smile quickly turned to a frown when Parker and Meg later crawled inside the cozy nest to do the nasty on the same cushions the kids would be using the next day. Yuck. Oh, and neither one of them realizes till the next day that, oops, "we forgot to use protection." Parker's excuse is he was caught up in the moment (how convenient). Meg says, "As long as you're healthy, we're okay. I mean, I'm practically a virgin." In this day and age that statement is just absolutely ridiculous, not to mention dangerous.

So save your pillow talk for a hero and heroine who do something more than go through the stereotypical motions of falling in lust. This one's all feathers -- goose down, of course.

--Ann McGuire

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