Some Like it Sizzling
by Jamie Sobrato
(Harl. Tempt. #911, $4.25, R) ISBN 0-373-69111-4
***
Lucy Connors considers herself plain and boring, the exact opposite of her best friend and boss, Claire Elliott, who’s wild and careless, with a passionate love life that resembles a steamy primetime soap opera. And Claire is determined to spice up Lucy’s life, so she dares her to do something crazy and un-Lucy-like for her birthday, and then tells Lucy her present will be waiting for her on her bed at home. Lucy expects a new comforter, not a gorgeous half-naked cowboy handcuffed to her bed, sound asleep.

It seems that Claire has made a week-long reservation for Lucy at The Fantasy Ranch, an adults-only resort where people with XXX-rated sex lives like Claire’s like to party. The cowboy is her escort to the ranch. Several of Claire’s employees at the travel agency had been to the ranch, and Claire is sure that it will transform Lucy’s nonexistent sex life. She’s even bought Lucy a hot new wardrobe, packed her suitcase, and chosen a sexy travel outfit.

But things don’t go quite as planned. It isn’t Buck, the egocentric, over-muscled cowboy Claire requested attached to Lucy’s bed, but Judd Walker, the ranch owner’s younger brother, hired to work undercover to figure out who is trying to sabotage the ranch’s business with one disaster after another, including tainted food, thefts, and unpleasant deliveries to guests’ rooms. Mason, Judd’s brother, is certain that it’s someone from the travel agency, and wants Judd to keep on eye on Lucy. If she looked like the old Lucy, Judd wouldn’t have had a problem with that. But she looks just like one of the sex kittens he’s always attracted to, who inevitably break his heart and mess up his life. One of them even cost him his job at the police department, which is why he’s now a PI. And Lucy not only looks the part, she has big, soft, brown eyes too, and Judd’s a sucker for brown eyes.

Lucy, however, is a sucker for cowboys, especially gorgeously handsome ones whose appearance just shrieks “gigolo”. She can’t believe Judd is paying attention to her, and decides that as long as she looks like a new Lucy, she’s going to act like one too. Her first decision is to seduce Judd, and have a wild fling with the cowboy who looks like he walked straight out of her fantasies, even if he acts like he doesn’t have a brain in his head.

Both Lucy and Judd have made some incorrect assumptions about each other. In reality, Lucy is a conservative woman who’s never let her wild side show, and Judd is tired of women throwing themselves at him because of his looks, while ignoring his intelligence and longing for hearth and home. They are both intrigued by the contradictions to their assumptions as they get better acquainted, and Lucy reveals glimpses of the “good girl” she’s always been, and Judd forgets to act dumb and shallow.

While short and somewhat slight, Some Like it Sizzling does live up to its title, and also provides suspense, mystery, and not a small amount of laughter. The XXX-rated antics at the ranch are described with just a touch of tongue in cheek, making them more amusing than sensual. The mystery of the disasters at the ranch is suspenseful, and resolved in a way that is not totally predictable, and includes a hint at a sequel. Lucy and Judd are sympathetic characters, although somewhat exaggerated in some ways. Lucy is entirely too convinced that she is plain, even when confronted with evidence to the contrary. Judd is a bit much when he whines over and over about his good looks, how women can’t resist him, and he feels like he’s just a slab of meat, rather than a whole person. Give me a break, both of you! You’re both smart and gorgeous and sexy, so stop with the “poor me” stuff. And when they finally get together, the sex does sizzle, especially a scene in front of the mirror.

It’s a quick read, with interesting characters, an amusing plot, and a satisfying ending, that keeps the reader turning pages in spite of its flaws. This may be January, but this is the perfect beach book.

--Joni Richards Bodart


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