For Better, for Bachelor
Her Prince Charming

Random Acts of Fashion
by Nikki Rivers
(Flipside, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-44207-6
Random Acts of Fashion is a cute tale of love in a small town between two people who are thrown together because of the Tunnel of Love (an underground tunnel linking the hotel to an old mansion). It has its clever moments; it has its drawbacks. There is nothing new here. Luckily, the heroine goes from a little ditsy to more sane which helps elevate it to acceptable status.

There is a legend in the town of Timber Bay, Michigan that anyone brought together by the tunnel will fall in love and live happily ever after. The question is whether outsider Gillian Caine and Lukas McCoy's interaction counts. Gillian used to come to Timber Bay and visit her great aunt. During those visits, she dreamed of becoming a clothing designer and really enjoyed the attention her aunt gave her. Attention she never got in a home with four brothers. The town saw her as snobbish, because she was always wearing cute little dresses and her shyness made her seem standoffish.

Now she is back, ready to take over her aunt's shop. She has renamed it Glad Rags and has lots of New York styles to sell. Gillian wants to update the fashions in Timber Bay. One night, however, when she steps outside to see the stars, she is thrown through the air when someone opens up the manhole cover in the street – the cover that enters the tunnel of love. Her nemesis is none other than Lukas McCoy, who was in the tunnel looking for a runaway cat. Lukas is a tall man, built like a lumberjack who smiles at all the pretty women and is well respected in town. Gillian had a crush on him in high school, and Lukas found her so attractive he used to get tongue-tied around her. Some things haven't changed. When the fall sprains Gillian's arm, she sues Lukas because now she cannot work on her store and is bound to lose money. The judge sentences him to help Gillian get her store ready, for as long as her arm is in the sling.

The attraction sizzles and they find that they can't keep their hands and mouths off each other at night when they are alone in the store. Outside and in the daylight, they act like they hate each other and often fight like cats and dogs. They start to get to know each other, in more ways than one. When Gillian opens her store, she has high hopes. But Timber Bay is not buying – her clothes are too frilly, too cultured and much too high priced for their tastes. But Gillian is not giving up.

The tale proceeds with the two playing the tango and cat and mouse games until they realize that they are in love. There is a subplot about the town and the historical hotel that Lukas and his partner are trying to preserve. An old high school archrival comes back to try to ruin things at the hotel and Lukas and Gillian join forces to save the hotel.

There are plenty of small town characters that one sees in every small town – the curmudgeon lady; the lively widow who sees life through rose colored glasses; the disapproving turned approving town matriarchs and the best friend partner who just got married and is a prime example of what being in love with do for a guy. And there is the lovable stray cat that Lukas calls Tiger and Gillian calls Pirate. They both adopt the cat, and he helps them get together. Like I said, nothing new here.

Gillian starts off being rather ditzy, getting into a lot of “slapstick comedy” type of predicaments (the manhole cover being just one of many). She is recovering from a broken heart and wants to remake her life. She is convinced this is the town to do it. When the tale gets moving, she settles in and begins to act a little more sensibly. She redeems herself when she goes from being self-centered to caring about the town and Lukas.

Lukas is the small town hero whom everyone adores. He is full of stereotypes, but he comes across as decent, sexy and a great kisser. There is nothing to make him stand out, but nothing to detract from his status, either.

Overall, Random Acts of Fashion is a nice story that will entertain. It is a little silly at times, but highly romantic at other times to make up for it.

--Shirley Lyons

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