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MacKenzie's Woman by JoAnn Ross
(Harl. Tempt. #717, $3.75, R) ISBN 0-373-25817-8
****
Heart Publications is celebrating its 50th anniversary (sound familiar?) and one of the main events is going to be a bachelor auction to benefit literacy. As the editorial staff gathers to discuss the affair, one member notices that most of the participating bachelors are pretty dull. I mean, how exciting is a millionaire banker? They need a heroic adventurer type like novelist/treasure hunter/adventurer Alec Mackenzie. Another editor turns to K.J. Campbell and asks innocently, "Didn't you meet Mackenzie at that book conference in Las Vegas last year?"

Katherine Jeanne reluctantly admits that yes, she and Mackenzie had met. Before she can say boo, K.J. is assigned the task of netting one hero for the bachelor auction. Her career may depend on it! But there's one big problem Alec Mackenzie is not really a bachelor. In fact, he's K.J.s husband!

The two had met, fallen in love, married, had a night of mad, passionate, unforgettable sex, and parted all within a single day. Alec had expected K.J. to abandon her job and come with him to the Amazon in pursuit of Spanish treasure. K.J., raised by her conservative grandmother after her adverturesome parents had been killed on a photographic expedition, was afraid to give up the security her job represented. But now, that security is threatened unless she can somehow convince Alec to get a quickie divorce and be auctioned off for a good cause.

Finding Alec is no small task, but K.J. tracks him down in the Amazonian jungle. Now all she has to do is convince him to cooperate.

Alec is quite pleased to have K.J. in his world at last. He firmly believes that beneath her staid and careful exterior beats a heart as adventuresome as his own, if only she'd admit it. And he is willing to go to just about any length to convince his wife that theirs should be a real marriage.

This is a light hearted, sexy romp that aims to entertain and succeeds admirably. Any woman would just swoon if she thought a man like Alec Mackenzie would go to such lengths to win her back. Alec might be sneaky, but his heart is in the right place. Yet we can sympathize with K.J.'s doubts and insecurities as well.

The romance is played out against the background of a treasure hunt, native fertility rites and a description of the Amazonian basin that convinces me that I don't want to visit same so it probably is fairly realistic. But unlike yours truly, K.J. decides that it's great fun. Next stop, Lapland! Lapland?

If the rest of the "Bachelor Auction" miniseries is as entertaining as Ross's entry, well, we'll all have a good time. Mackenzie's Woman sets a high standard for the books that will follow.

--Jean Mason


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