Simply Sinful

As Karen Drogin:

Perfect Partners

Simply Scandalous by Carly Phillips
(Harl. Tempt. #779, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-25879-8
Simply Scandalous is the spin-off of Carly Phillips' Simply Sinful, a story that introduced us briefly to secondary character Catherine Luck, who's now starring in her own story. The review of Simply Sinful ended with this quote. "Here's hoping that Cat is portrayed as intelligently, as savvy and as fully faceted as her sister Kayla. And if Cat's hero is in the same league as Kane, get ready for some great reading." Well, this is one time that my hopes paid off. Cat is indeed a savvy, intelligent heroine, Logan is a Grade-A hero and the story is well-worth your reading time.

Assistant D.A. Logan Montgomery needs a bit of luck. His father wants Logan to enter politics, and Ol' Dad is so determined that he won't listen as Logan explains that he's not interested in running for office. Logan's grandmother, a feisty, sassy woman who always has his best interests at heart, appears to have the luck he needs -- Catherine Luck, that is. Granny suggests that Logan begin seeing Catherine, knowing that the scandal surrounding her family will tarnish his image just enough that he won't be prime mayoral material.

We learned in Simply Sinful that Catherine's deceased aunt and uncle were involved in a call girl service. Catherine and her sister were innocent and unaware of the connection, but the scandal still hovers over them. Logan is interested in Catherine but is honorable enough to rule out using her past to smooth his future. That doesn't stop Granny from throwing them together every chance she gets. First off, she locks them in a closet, then . . .

Simply Scandalous has an almost perfect hero. To me, the perfect hero sees his lady love, his other half at the first of the story and concentrates his efforts on making her see that they're perfect partners. Logan takes a bit more time, but when he finally realizes that Catherine is the one for him, then he's no slouch in the hero department.

Cat is slower to come around, but as I stated earlier, she's savvy and intelligent, so much so that she is able to overcome the emotional problems of her youth and then hang onto Logan for all she's worth. While I rarely make this statement, Logan and Cat are people that I'd like to know in real life. They're appealing, honorable, lively characters who make the pages come alive.

Simply Scandalous is the best kind of Blaze. The sexual excitement is layered over this couple's honest, burgeoning affection for the other. It's safe sex, sex that's based on caring, tenderness and basic goodness. It's also laced with humor, soft-edged comedy that adds to the sexual titillation. Imagine Logan's chagrin when he discovers that Cat is a culinary school graduate. He's just made and served her his favorite dessert: Jell-O chocolate pudding.

Kayla and her detective husband Kane make an appearance, so we're able to catch up on what they've been doing. Kayla, who's been ordered to get bed rest for the last of her pregnancy, proves to be a good sounding board for Cat, who confides that she feels that she's way out of Logan's league. Kane earns more points when his protective side emerges, warning Logan that he'd better not hurt Cat.

What could have turned into a big misunderstanding never materializes. Instead we're treated to a story about adults who have foibles, failings, warts and all, but both realize that love makes them stronger, better people. According to this reviewer, Carly Phillips seems to have patented the formula for writing successful, enjoyable category romances.

--Linda Mowery

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